Buddhist temple, Tokyo One cry from a lone bird over a misted river is the expression of grief, in Japanese. Let women do what they need. And afterwards knit a red cap, pray— In long rows, stone children in bibs and hats, the smell of pine and cooled earth— It was a temple for the babied dead. I found it via the Internet. Where they offered pinwheels and bags of sweets for the aborted ones, or ones who'd lived but not enough… Moss-smell, I can project there. Azaleas pinking the water. When her lord asked her again how it died, she said As an echo off the cliffs of Kegon. — ukiyo: in Japanese it sounds like "Sorrowful World" winds trying to hold each other in silken robes what in English sounds like "Floating World" a joke on the six realms in which we tarry what they called the "Sorrowful World": wheel made of winds trying to cling to each other — A child didn’t jell until the age of seven, in his body. Was mizuko, water-child, what in English sounds like "don't understand"... He was a form of liquid life, he committed slowly to the flesh— and if he died or gestation stopped, he was offered a juice box and incense sticks, apology and Hello Kitty... In Japanese, souls spin red-n-pink rebirth wheels: whole groves whrrrr-tik-tik behind the temple at Zozo-ji... — Sad World. Pleasure World. In some minds they sounded the same— It was a grief aesthetic. Imagining another lit visitor considering a tour, before finding that it needs to start over— Over the misted river. Where a banner hangs, saying, You Are The 10,056th Person To Visit This Site and you are the You who keeps disembarking.
Copyright © 2008 by Dana Levin. First appeared in Kenyon Review. Reprinted with permission of the author.