(In Monterey Market, perusing the milk case)
Him: Sweets, do you want sweetened or unsweetened almond milk?
Her: Get whatever you want, Honey; I have my soy milk.
Saturday, June 23, 2012
Came across this poem by Gary Snyder. I'm reading Wallace Stegner's Crossing to Safety right now; the theme of longtime friendships overlap in these two pieces. "All those years and their moments"--my heart seized. In a good way.
(and, completely randomly, I learned via wiki that Huey Lewis, of "and the News," fame was the stepson of Lew Welch, and adopted the "Lewis" as a tribute.)
Snowfall in March:
I sit in the white glow reading a thesis
About you. Your poems, your life
The author’s my student,
He even quotes me
Forty years since we joked in a kitchen in Portland
Twenty since you disappeared
All those years and their moments—
Crackling bacon, slamming car doors,
Poems tried out on friends,
Will be one more archive,
One more shaky test
But life continues in the kitchen
Where we still laugh and cook,
Sunday, May 27, 2012
(Mariko has finally found her way to a hospital to Taihoku (Taipei) which is recovering from wartime bombings and Dr. Akimoto, like the other Japanese colonists, has left the story....)
“Mariko” was a name that had been slipped on her, yoke-like, and even after hearing it called for a year, she could not think of herself as anything but Niwa. Now, she could not speak, and she was without a name in a new city. The unsteady lurching of the rickshaw jarred her tender neck, and she longed to clear her throat, but the doctor had warned her that the biggest danger was suffocating on her own blood if the scab came loose. He had said this to her before he had jabbed her with the needle that had numbed everything to softness. She could barely recall the train ride, and now she was being toted along through a city that smelled of smoke and sewage, a city of blackened skeletons that were once houses, and people thronging the sidewalks and pushing into the streets where buses and cars made their way by any path possible and were stopped only by lumbering water buffalo.
“Ah, what happened? That man was pretty nice. Who was he? Your fiancé? Going back to Japan? Ah, he’ll send for you, don’t worry. Can you believe it? The war is over. But what will happen to us? I hear the Americans are going to take over. Can you imagine? The 49th state!” The driver went on pleasantly, unconcerned with her silence. Sweat turned his shirt translucent. “Just me and my rickshaw. That’s all I need. When the Americans come, I’ll make American dollars driving them around. But do you suppose they’ll come with cars? I’m already practicing my English. How are you, sir? On second thought, you look too young to be getting married. So who was he? Aw, I wish you could tell me. Well, here we are already, at the hospital.” He slipped off his seat and tipped the cart down so she could step out. “Best of luck!” he called as she went inside.
Niwa spent three weeks in the hospital watching other patients cycle through: those, raw with burns, still recovering from the May bombings; those who came in like dried-up husks, thinned by the cholera; soldiers who had tried, unsuccessfully, to kill themselves. She watched the ceiling fans turn spitefully slowly as the hot August afternoons wore on and the air lay over the patients like a moldering wet blanket. When she was well enough to walk, the short-staffed nurses put her to work washing bandages.
Meanwhile, as the Japanese left the island, the many gods and goddesses that had been hidden away during the Main Hall Reconfiguration Movement, Japan’s attempt to move the island away from idolatry and toward Shintoism, emerged into this broke-down, smoking, dusty, inflation-plagued world to despair at the mess and to bear witness to the nightmares, such as Niwa’s, in which she encountered the blinking, disembodied head of the soldier Tadao in every dim corner and corridor of the hospital. At the tap, sluicing the basin of dirty bandages, she braced herself for his call. As the sun fell and the hospital lights had not yet come on, as she walked an empty hall, she caught his grey face and white eyes peeking at her from doorways. Within the nightmare and outside of it, she could not scream.
Finally, the doctor said that her throat had healed as it would and there was nothing to be done. He unwrapped her bandages and snipped the stitches. The doctor sucked air through his teeth as he tugged, “Yes, here we go, okay, yes. Nice.” She reached with a tentative hand and found a lumpy scar. She opened her mouth to say, “It’s ugly,” and shocked herself when nothing resembling language came out.