Tokyo, the Floating World Adrift

By Leah Stenson

Instead of Asian architecture with antique charm,
I found box-like concrete structures
built hastily after the bombings.
Ponds with footbridges were still to be found
yet few Japanese had time to sit in a garden,
much less admire the moon.
Women rushed about in drab business attire
elbowing their way onto the trains like samurai
salary men in their blue pin-striped suits.
People flocked to department stores with more fervor
than they did to places of worship.

The city of my dreams, long gone before I arrived,
had quaint tile-roofed houses and gardens
with wooden footbridges crossing koi ponds
where Basho’s moon rippled on the water’s surface.
Women in floral kimono tightly bound
with yards of satin obi encircling their waists
teetered on wooden geta, their hips swaying gently
as they minced along cobblestones on the way
to Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples
where incense graced the air and people intent
on purifying themselves intoned the sutra.


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