Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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Poem: "After the Wave"

This poem was written outside the regular prompt calls, inspired by a discussion with [personal profile] siliconshaman.  It has been sponsored by [personal profile] janetmiles.  It belongs to the series Polychrome Heroics.

Warning: This poem deals with the aftermath of a major earthquake and tsunami.


"After the Wave"

[Thursday, January 21, 2016]

Five years have passed since
the earthquake and the tsunami.

In parts of Japan, the ghosts
of the dead still wander,
lost and confused.

They hail taxis and
ask to visit places
that no longer exist.

The taxi drivers visit
temples and tell the monks
living there, "Someone needs
to attend to the coastline.
The ghosts there do not
know they are dead."

So the monks go out
to walk through the rubble,
telling the ghosts they are dead
and helping them to move on.

Shimizu Aishi walks through
the Minamihama district in
his blue-gray robes, with
a bell in one hand and
a mala over the other.

He chants mantras
to attract the ghosts and
send them on their way.

"If you can hear me,
you are dead," he says.
"There is no one else
living here. The wave
has washed all away."

Snow drifts down
like soft white feathers.

It touches the rubble
but does not stick.

The ghosts, too,
drift close but
do not stay.

The prayers of
the monk show them
the path to the Pure Land.

* * *

Notes:

Shimizu Aishi -- He has golden skin, almond-shaped brown eyes, and black hair. His head is shaved. Shimizu is his family name, and Aishi is his personal name. As a monk, he has devoted his life to Buddhism. He has no trouble with long hours of prayer or obscure aspects of philosophy, and people instinctively trust him. However, he has tried multiple schools of martial arts, and he is no good at any of them.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Buddhist Monk, Good (+2) Existential Intelligence, Good (+2) Stamina, Good (+2) Trustworthy
Poor (-2) Martial Arts

Robe colors vary in Buddhism. Chinese and Korean monks wear brown, grey or blue; Japanese monks wear black or grey robes.

* * *

(These links are graphic.)
The 2011 Tōhoku earthquake struck on Friday, March 11 with magnitude 9.0-9.1, destroying a considerable amount of territory and raising a 40.5 meter tall tsunami. There were thousands of casualties.

Several years later, taxi drivers reported encounters with ghosts who did not know they were dead. This problem occurs more often with sudden and/or violent deaths.

Eastern traditions offer ways of helping the dead.

Buddhist prayer beads are called malas. Learn how to use them.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, ethnic studies, fantasy, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, spirituality, weblit, writing
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