Posted in Poetry

Wandering in Yukata

At a party held in a home in Nara,

my host mother wraps a lilac yukata

around my form.

The obi cuts into my thick waist

so I can’t breathe.

“Too tight?”

“No,” but yes, but too polite.

I smile for cameras left and right.

They pass matcha from one to another to me.

I discover green tea tastes well paired

with Kit Kats and gummy treats.

After an hour playing at tea ceremony,

host mother tells me,

“It’s a gift.”


I carry it with me across the sea,

then back again

to the rice fields of Itako.

I arrive in summer at a time for fireworks

and memorials.

I wear the yukata at the riverside

to watch children run with sparklers

and at shrines to light vigil candles.

I walk over Ibaraki’s roads

cracked in the middle

like gaping asphalt wounds.

My clacking wooden shoes tread

with careful steps

between laughter and tears.


In summer, we musume walk

together in an iris park.

The blooms of pale purple mingling

with white petals beside them

atop long green stalks

seem brushed by an artist

instead of planted by hands.

When sunshine hits the river right,

all the fields glisten.

We stroll as we chat, as we sing, as we laugh,

forming friendships fast.

Our yukata were vibrant violet iris

patterned to nearly blend in with the scenery

if not for the bright navy

between the dyed flowers.


As the leaves fall,

I fold the fabric as instructed.

I place the gifts into a box

reverent as I put them up high.

Next year,

we will wander again

and weave memories

into the seams.

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