Modern Matsushima by Sonia Saikaley

Modern Matsushima

Snowflakes melt in pots
of steaming miso soup floating
among seaweed
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,
Basho sits
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.

by Sonia Saikaley

Twitter: @SaikaleySonia

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.

The Letter by Sonia Saikaley

The Letter

We walk together sharing neither language nor culture,
speaking with hands, moving as if sign language.

You pluck blossoms from my hair, blow them from your hands
and embrace me for the first time under those cherry trees.

Back home trees do not weep pink, but fling gold, crimson, and orange
on paved streets. I wanted to gather and stuff them

in an envelope, between a cream-coloured letter.
A monogram stamped on the other side of the world, but my hands
still wrung through the dry fire of the season: My dear, how are you?

by Sonia Saikaley

Twitter: @SaikaleySonia

Editor’s Note: Longing is universal. In this poem, there are layers upon layers of it, delicately balanced within the imagery and the narrative in such a way that the reader is left longing, too.