SBP Blog

Stone Bridge Cafe: "From the Desk Window"

Intern Intern - Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Stone Bridge Cafe is a bi-weekly online series from Stone Bridge Press devoted to bringing readers short stories, poems, non-fiction pieces, photographs, and artwork from and/or about East Asia. For submission guidelines and info, follow the link at the bottom of this post.

On the menu this week is a powerful little poem written by Miriam Sagan in Itoshima, Japan that transports you into the poet's subjective perception as she observes the Japanese village and countryside unfurling outside her desk window. With just a few choice words Sagan captures the act of looking out and its paradoxical connection to looking inward: of turning the mind's eye outward to observe, to see your world in a different culture and yourself in another person. 

☀☀☀

from the desk window

blue roof tiles

those dragon scales

that ripple

like the sea

and a corrugated

green tin roof

then the lettuce beds

of the old lady’s house

 

when she opens the screens

I can watch her

watch television

or eat a little snack,

she has quality

of loneliness

or aloneness

I recognize—

she’s the one

who is left

 

beyond that

dark misty mountains

on this early January day

and off to my left

the shrine with its decrepit

swing set and climbing structure

the tiny park

and the curved stone gate

making a place

apart

 

if you keep going

not towards the train station

but down to the rice fields

there is a larger shrine

overgrown

dark, two sets

of guardian statues

and I think

maybe I shouldn’t have

put money in the box

and pulled the rope—

there was no bell

anyway

 

I gather

I’ve been praying

all wrong

should know

what spirit

I’m addressing

and ask for rain

or clear weather

I’ve just been

stilling my mind

in that wordless

invocation of

keep us safe and

don’t leave us

 

in my backpack

across Japan

I’m carrying

the medal

of the Blessed Kateri Tekawitha

who although the Lily of the Mohawk

stands outside

the Santa Fe cathedral,

the prayer on the back

says: may we walk

in harmony

with nature

 

now the old lady

has opened her sliding doors

cracked for fresh air,

she looks up

for an instant

and sees me

another old lady

typing

in my green nightgown

and lavender sweater,

and I should wave

but overcome

by shyness

look down

at these words.

☀☀☀

Miriam Sagan is the author of 30 published books, including the novel Black Rainbow (Sherman Asher, 2015) and Geographic: A Memoir of Time and Space (Casa de Snapdragon). which just won the 2016 Arizona/New Mexico Book Award in Poetry. She founded and headed the creative writing program at Santa Fe Community College until her retirement this year. Her blog Miriam’s Well (http://miriamswell.wordpress.com) has 1500 daily readers. She has been a writer in residence in two national parks, at Yaddo, MacDowell, Colorado Art Ranch, Andrew’s Experimental Forest, Center for Land Use Interpretation, Iceland’s Gullkistan Residency for creative people, and another dozen or so remote and unique places. Her awards include the Santa Fe Mayor’s award for Excellence in the Arts, the Poetry Gratitude Award from New Mexico Literary Arts, and a Lannan Foundation residency in Marfa.

If you would like to submit your own work to Stone Bridge Cafe, follow this link for submission info and guidelines: http://www.stonebridge.com/sbp-blog/stone-bridge-cafe-guidelines-submission-info


Like our blog? Please share it!

Categories

Subscribe to the SBP Mailing List

New Releases

Amy’s Guide to Best Behavior in Japan


Going to Japan? This unfussy modern guide guarantees you keep it polite and get it right!

Easy and Fun Katakana


Learn the second key Japanese syllabary from every angle: reading, writing, and real-world examples.

Exploring Kyoto


This revised and updated edition of the Japan travel classic and cultural guide gets you wandering from downtown quarters to remote mountaintop temples and features expanded information on new museums and gardens now open year-round for viewing.


The Fourth String


Two women. Two cultures. One music.

Tag Cloud

Ukiyo-e astrology no longer human Basho's Narrow Road traditional japanese instrumenet japanese travel manga biography china history publishing journal' monks wife giajin Japanese art kinokuniya event tk nakagaki Chinese New Year japanese drunk swastika comics Olympics danica davidson Korea kyodo news Basho bowing in japan 2019 my year of dirt and water the buddhist swastika books shamisen poetry of consciousness haibun book tour author event WWII tourist japan book buddhism dark horse internment japan culture Nikolas Bunton Anime/Manga/Comics four immigrants henry kiyama gratitude in japan 1960s Korea japan trip diary kansuke naka hiroaki sato best behavior in japan China tracy franz huffington post the silver spoon hooked cross nara university of chicago Japanese holidays book hoarding takuma sminkey shun medoruma michael emmerich monk VIZ Christianity in Japan book publicity understandind china through comics World War II Shoah evil Second World War author signing benjamin franklin award japan books will eisner amys guide to bes tbehavior in japan author tour ex pat literature new release green tea amy chavez classic award Asian Studies japanese books in english astro boy Japan buddhist symbols damian flanagan event book review graphic novels literature author Culture The Colorado Review how to order in japan catcher in the rye foreword indies brad hawley Spirituality ningen shikkaku alan moore gaijin pot behavior eating in japan journal of a zen monks wife in japan a memoir a shameful life american shamisen wife eastern and western philosophy osamu dazai ancient symbols jun hazuki journal pottery t.k. nakagaki zazen Year of the Dog the hidden writer japanese culture Spring Festival Okinawan literature buddhist priest reviews japanese people japan memoir buddhist tricycle magazine Japanese aesthetics ritual ancient symbol walt disney the millions nazi Children's Literature traditional japanese instrument japanese instruments otakuusa World War Two asian review of books illustration osamu tezuka zen monk washington dc janet pocorobba hitlers cross guide Travel Children's Books frederik schodt 2020 Olympics musical hippocampus magazine Chinese Astrology History shamisen performance book blurb suicide amys guide to best behavior in japan japan travel book signing book award manga the fourth string polite Art/Design how to travel in japan traditional jing liu buddhist swastika tea world literature today Chinese culture hate student teacher how to visitor review Japanese literature publicity book talk literary prize japanese instrument yukio mishima kyoto new york center of east asian studies comic history Translation asia Chiune Sugihara donald keene blurb manners PEN AWARD juddhism zen foreword reviews Chinese history book reading expat monk wife fred schodt etiquette learning in japan japan custom Coming of Age Day Alexandra Johnson japan guide bookstore huffpost min kahng state of belief haiku the japan times japan etiquette seppuku UCLA stone bridge press lions roar memoir, tracy franz, zen monk, buddhist Christianity matcha rachel manley osaka travel Japan 1960's Japan japan behavior japanese bath IBPA sensei Interview memior gaijinpot Korea photography what do in japan japanese etiquette suehiro maruo japanese customs non-fiction drinking in japan alan brill journal of a zen monk's wife welton gaddy literary review Poetry Language japanese book learning shamisen dazai classic japanese literature anime verticle in the woods of memory performance Tokyo Olympics william f sibley purification tokyo jared cook announcement japan today photography leonard koren the japan society mark gibeau stone bridge cafe politics and prose japanese chinese comics holocaust monks wife holden caufield hitler koun finalist fantasy literature black jack japanese books japanese classic nichi bei weekly, naomi hirarahara tea garden book japan restaurant forewrod reviews indies peace new books memoir AAS disney living in japan travel to japan sensei and me japanese cutlure japan food religion
RSS