Japan


I was there once, too—you forget—
without you. Wandered Kyoto

in a way you don’t call wandering

while my sister stayed inside
throwing up soup and rice.

I climbed a mini tea set street,
entered a temple that starts with a “k”

and found a stone-carved god
dressed in a winter cap.

The patron saint of unborn children,
I translated.

It was just what I wanted.

Below the temple, people caught water
from a fountain, served it

with silver ladles. Sipped for luck.

I walked to them—I’m a sucker
for luck—but it cost 10 yen.

I walked back.
My sister was still sick and I was glad.

There’s something to being alone and foreign,
though I haven’t wanted that for a long time—

at least not the way you do,
the way you’ll spend days in Tokyo

searching for a sumo bowl of Ramen.
It tastes better when they can’t pronounce your name.


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