We take off our shoes. Japanese style.
I’m glad I changed my socks.
Tsunami-san, your name
like the tidal
wave, crashes over me.
In Hokkaido I slept in your six-tatami room
head on a rice pillow.
You taught me to cook shabu-shabu:
enhoki mushrooms, chrysanthemum leaves
in broth. Confused, I called it Basho-Basho.
Knowing I loved poets and books,
you took me to see paper-making.
I expected kozo drying.
Logs floated in one end,
bales of newsprint tumbled out the other.
When I married, you visited my home.
You and my husband, young sailors,
fought at Midway. Opposite sides.
At night we went to the funeral
of the Marine Colonel we knew.
Someone said, “Those veterans are going out
Tsunami-san, I was impatient at the time.
But thank you for making me go through
the whole factory. Thank you for signing
my guestbook in kanji. That tanka
about the plum tree that bloomed
even when the master was far away.