Cold winter petrichor bites
the fringes. Gold drains green
from kiting leaves. Glass, frosting.
One hundred myriad scintillations.
Each an excuse not to face, yet
there it is. Friends for years that
can not be recalled now, lest the
membrane tear and bleed a thread
of remonstrations. She knows, she knows.
Tea with another ought to help when
time refuses to pass, he says as
the steam turns fei bai strokes
in the air. And she would smile plainly,
comments reserved, some other day.
Three days of sleep missed, errands run,
papers in order, attorney power exhaustion,
and the inevitable phone call
leaves no room living undisturbed
nor any one self-expression. Doubt,
and the rainfall augmentation canon.
Before it turns bitter, he says,
like my heart, or whatever the line is
in that one Stephen Crane poem.
Each cup contains abstractions and
reflections always fleeting spill.
Such a strange phrase. Indeed.
We say “Pull yourself together“;
the Japanese say “Don’t lose,” even
as the peasant girl bleeds out nobly
slain by jealous yakuza. And here,
she says, no way to win, for anyone.
Silence, and evaporation.
He sits. But there is little more
before she leans on his arm, unsteady
and dampening each sob by turns.
Holding tight with voice, breathe, I am here.
Let it all out, let it all out.
Then suddenly stops, eyes on fire,
each unwept tear as kerosene
realization: there is no such
thing, no end to all. Grief is not a moment, or
gaiwan filled and drained then finds its way
back to the shelf so handily; grief
is the crack in the gods’ handiwork
that leaks every joyful thing each day
in blood, that will not hold, that will not stop
until that fissure clots with golden
residue of what was lost and
like kintsugi pottery becomes
imperfectly complete again.
As death is business of the living
so, too, life, however gilt transforms
one’s vessel might as well be full
of potable memories before
the cup refills no more. This is all.
Push away. A thought. A pause. Then that
oh so strong and feminine phrase,
“I’m fine” as if it would be uncouth
not to nod, affirm the lie. But he is
no fool instead, says “Yes. Yes you are.”
Forcing her unforced smile, she hears the
hush and drizzle, perfect substitute.
“Once more into the breach, my friend”
declaiming history with wit, “one cup
more to sit, one, one, it’s the loneliest
number,” wails into atonal plea; and –
she laughs – surprised herself and sips
smooth baozhong. “一期, my friend,” —
“Ichi-e,” she says. We only get one
story, to tell again and again.
Shall we listen? Yes, let’s listen.