My people once
held fire in their palms
Masked as hot prayers. Masked as breath turned frost when the lungs, exhausted,
Gave into the cold of camp.
I wonder over the flame that burns inside the body
Fueled first by love, then anger. Grief collects like dreamed-about coals.
How many felt the sun or witnessed the white light of a common moon fragmented embers
Lifting like words, like voice.
What codes to keep the cold in place as the last exhalation, tinged with warmth,
When a samurai signed his agreement in blood
The pressure of the code of behavior must have been dizzying. Now a burning of the agreement
Most of the ash escaping for centuries—some gathered and mixed with water
To be swallowed and absorbed in his core.
And should he disappoint, or politics take a toll, a tea ceremony. A last meal
Replaced with an empty plate and sword—the soul.
Before the painful self-dissection, a poem.
Is the moment of passing the same for everyone? Words seen not uttered? A bright heat. Lifting.