Photo by S. Tsuchiya on Unsplash
The sun beat down on Tokyo intensely: Forty-five in the shade. The matsu tree Stretched out across Susumu’s back garden, Providing relief from the scorching heat. Susumu’s dad had finally convinced Him to have the minor operation: Yarinasai, he’d growled, don’t be a coward – Susumu was frightened but had no choice. They hadn’t expected his reaction To the anaesthetic on the table. Samurais fall on swords than show weakness: The old Lie was exposed and the old man Wept under the branches shading his face From the fire that watched Icarus fall.
Tadaima (I’m home)
On the way to your house in Nakano: I heard the slurp of salarymen as they sat at ramen bars Backs hunched over their bowls like blackbirds in a line Dim lanterns from each izakaya guided the way to yours They swayed in the breeze of September As if the heat of the summer had been a dream I knew that I was coming home My key turned in the lock and I saw you turn and smile Your slippers were laid out, facing forwards for me to wear So I could slip into how we used to be I neared the kitchen, and the scent of your vegetable tempura Swirled with the steam from the rice cooker Your blue apron was stained with greasy handprints I knew that I was coming home I went upstairs to change, into the yukata you laid out for me Creaseless and clean, I brushed my hair and washed my face When I came downstairs you had made hojicha tea I raised the china cup to my lips and scalded them The leaves danced in the ceramic, drifting towards me And when your hand touched my cheek and you whispered okaerinasai My face was awash with tears: I knew that I was coming home