Samurai Angels

            a pantoum by Judyth Hill

 

I heard your name in my dream last night.

It was your childhood name and I was calling you.

There was an angel on every stair.

There was light from four directions.

 

It was your childhood name and I was calling you.

Tell me eleven names for wind, I said.

There was light from four directions.

Tell me how you followed the scent of daffodils through the streets of London.

 

Tell me eleven names for wind, I said.

I’m one thought away.

Tell me how you found a square filled with flowers in a dark city.

The angels are calling our names out loud.

 

I’m one landscape away.

Any moment could be Japan.

The angels are calling our names out loud.

Their wings are light and cherry blossom, we could hear temple bells ringing on any street.

 

Any landscape could be Japan.

You were born there.

There will always be plum blossoms, can’t you hear the silence in the temples around us?

I can write you three lines and there will be cranes in all of them.

 

You were born there.

After love we breathe in Japanese, our sleeping bodies form the character for light.

I can write you three lines and there will be the way you loved your father in all of them.

There’s a secret in Haiku: I’ll tell you.

 

After love we breathe in Japanese, our sleeping bodies form the character for angel.

After love the taste of Saki is silky and fierce.

There’s a secret, I’ll tell you:

Haiku is really four lines, but the last line is silent.

 

After love the taste of Saki is silky and fierce.

See how gently I write us into your past.

The fourth line in Haiku is a temple.

I call your secret name for the last time.

 

See how delicately I write us into your past.

Under Fujiyama, I know you are weeping.

I call your childhood name for the last time.

I hold you. Your tears rhyme with the grain of light woods,

The sound of taps for your father.

 

 

From A Presence of Angels, Santa Fe, New Mexico: Sherman Asher Publishing, 1995, pages 56–57.