Renewal

During the season of cherry blossoms, after more than fifty years of being separated by more than six-thousand miles, we met again. This gentle man, Kenji, who I knew only for one year, all those years ago. So many changes in the world since last we’d seen each other. Kenji was a foreign exchange student from Japan, during our senior year at my Illinois high school. And now I was a visitor in his home country. There for a few days to experience his beautiful culture. In his hometown of Tokyo for one day. How would it be to see him again?

We sat in a small restaurant over a pot of fresh brewed tea. Shared news about our lives, careers and family. Reminisced too. And somehow, the years melted away and friendship bloomed again.

cold brings frost, stunts growth
trees remain rooted in earth –
blossoms come again

Written for Haibun Monday at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the globe. Today Frank asks us to consider cherry blossoms. A haibun combines prose and haiku.
Photo is from our cruise to China, South Korea and Japan in 2019. Such a wonderful reunion with Kenji Kojima! And how appropriate that our friendship bloomed once again exactly during cherry blossom season in Japan.

Taken too soon . . .

My friend, Louise.
Gregarious, always moving, always engaged.
She strode through life like she owned it
doing good for others, singing, laughing.
Pain from a pulled muscle slowed her a bit,
but she kept hiking, bicycling,
eagle watching along the Iowa River,
until she could ignore the pain no longer.

Cancer. A word. Not a sentence in her mind.
She fought. God how she fought.
Refused to be forced over the edge.
She took everything they had
and asked for more. Bring it on!
She told me, “I’m not afraid of dying.
I just don’t want to.”
Steps slowed. Belly bloated. Scalp exposed.
But she trekked on. Reached the fringe of living.

She  never acknowledged it. Would not let it win.
“My head’s freezing but doesn’t this hat look divine?”
She grabbed every filament of hope
no matter how thin. She held on for dear life.
Until one night as the household slept,
a kind ethereal spirit appeared beside her bed.
It spoke gently, words riding on the breeze
that floated in from her open window.

“It’s not like a high mountain top towering over a rough sea.
It’s simply a turn in the road.  
Hold my hand and I’ll walk you there.”
And quietly, in the middle of the night, she did.

Written for Tuesday Poetics at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets, where today our prompt is to consider the edges and the fringes. We may if we wish, write a poem that contains the word “edge.” Photo is of my dear friend, Louise. She died in 2018 after a 2+ year battle with ovarian cancer.