A path leads to the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo, one of the favourite destinations for hatsumōde (the first shrine visit and prayer of the new year). Bordered by thick green, grey foliage that lets hints of light skitter across the dusty path. Feet kick up the dust so that the air and light create a shadow show. On that day, magnificent, transparent ice sculptures watched us as we made our way toward the main torii. They sat still in the sun, throwing the light about and dripping dainty puddles in the dust. Their transparency made them blend into the winter trees but the light made them shine from within. There were mermaids, chameleons, phoenixes, warriors and dragons in the most intricate detail. As I was admiring a beautiful dragonfly glittering in the sun, his melting wing fell off and hit the ground with a dull thud. The crowd shared a murmur of dismay. “What a pity!” someone said. Yet, its creator knew full well while he was chiseling and carving that every stroke was destined to disappear in a few hours in the sun. I’ve been pondering ever since what motivates us to pour energy and love into a fleeting void?
With chisel and grinder
he chases the sharp, eloquent
8.20 am light into the ice,
one scale and petal at a time,
teasing eyes and tongue from indifference.
How much of himself
given to his frozen mid-action chameleon
who will sit on the edge of the Meiji Jingu forest,
one hundred thousand old trees watching it
softening – too quickly – satiated with dancing winter beams?
I think of us, carved from such fragile substances
as shared moments and love
with such care and tenderness, knowing
that as soon as it is recognizable, beautiful
the sharp, eloquent 8.20 am light
will melt our wings away and
leave us with only stories,
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