Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Saga Of The Bags

Under an oilskin tarp,
an old man sets up his table
with bags of boiled peanuts and soy beans.
He always tells his buyers
the brown paper perfects their taste
and is kinder to the earth.
The road  stays quiet. No travelers
except an armadillo
emerging from  a field of tall  grass.
His body bangled in  light bronze
matching the sun
that ripples on the river
and warms the skin of a girl
who boils something  much different
 in the distant  hills.
     *  *  *  *  *  *  *
Trees form an alcove
where the tennyo stands
stirring indigo leaves and oak ash
in her steel vat.
Strips of gauze
hang on the  branches
waiting to be soaked
and saturated by length of time.
the maiden prepares her dye
knowing one grade of  mist
must be the deeper blue
of mountains where evergreens
are steeped in twilight ;
and the other, lighter gray
(like lint) where sea birds
steep their wingspan.
in a sky of  filmy brine.

Slowly, she dyes her cloth
and with limber hands
spreads smooth the colored swaths
knowing soon they must be stitched
and styled as bags. Sheer bags
for the scent of  rain and wood,
beach and billow;  the migrant awe
of dreams and drifters.
     *  *  *  *  *  *  *
and among those drifters, who did not buy
the boiled goods, but other things instead,
a  woman and her son
turn from the surf -- leaving their own fog
along the shore. White litter
that flutters and floats
out to sea, only to rip
on a coral reef  or slide
as luminous waste inside the throats
of  turtle or seal. Their songs
of longevity spliced
with plastic.

Note: In Asian/Buddhist mythology, "the tennyo" is a female deity or celestial maiden who dwells on a mountain  to guard and reveal what is  most sacred and splendid. In some myths, she helps to craft natural phenomenon which is part of the climate, both in heaven and on earth.


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