Volcano Pilgrim
Five months in Japan as a wandering poet

Miyakejima, 3

You feel like you are seeing everything now. Nothing was happening, and now everything is happening. Why does your sight seem now so sharp and clear?


      The raspberry vine

            puts out first five white petals

                  then a bright green leaf


At the bottom of your shoulder bag you find the apple, Keiko’s parting gift to you, and as you make short work of it as you walk, enjoying the crunch and the sweet juice of it, pitching the core into the bushes without shame.


      Chewing a big bite

            of a big yellow apple –

                  the taste of kindness


Sitting on the curb, waiting for some sort of bus to come, at your feet you find a dried-out snail shell at the end of a long scribble of glittering snail-slime.


      A snail went this way

            and that over the pavement

                  looking for some shade


There is a rustle in the canes, and out comes a long lean tawny body, rippling squirrel-like over the sidewalk: a mongoose or a weasel. Clearly it is thinking about crossing the road, and a car is coming. You click your tongue at it, tsk-tsk, and it stops and gives you a look before ducking back into the brush. If nothing else you have saved a life today.

A life other than your own, that is. Danger has a way of cutting through melancholy, the real fear blinding you to the fear dimly imagined. If you could only always just have escaped death, you would never be sad again.

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