Snowflakes melt in pots
of steaming miso soup floating
the colour of emeralds,
and rice paddies.
Rows of spectators
wander across Matsushima.
I wait in line for oysters,
grilled corn on the cob.
Beyond the crowd
of people and food stalls,
alone on a bench surrounded
by souvenir shops,
his gaze on a cluster of kokeshi dolls.
May I take a photograph? I ask.
His mouth curls, No photographs, please.
I sit and watch his eyes dart over
zealous travellers flashing cameras in his direction.
He blinks and murmurs,
I once roamed the islands of Matsushima.
Then stiffens like a paper mache sculpture,
a relic from the past, he closes
his eyes and prays.
Editor’s Note: This poem uses imagery as narrative—place and moment are informed by the dialogue in the last stanza, giving the reader a sense of time.