This will no longer be just a travel blog. I will still be traveling but I have decided to add poetry, creative non-fiction and even fiction to Themapisnottheroad. I would appreciate feedback on what you read.
My first entry is a poem. I will try to orient the reader to my entries when appropriate. The first poem is about a shrine in Japan that honors those who are still missing from the Tsunami and what one man has set up that helps families of the missing stay in contact with their loved ones – in an way that is unique.
I like to listen to podcasts on my iphone as I do simple repetitive tasks – in this case – painting a room.
This poem was written after I listened to a “This American Life” podcast entitled “One Last Thing Before I Go”. It is an amazing podcast – their best I have ever heard. Here is a link so you can listen as well. https://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/597/one-last-thing-before-i-go
The phone booth is a shrine to the missing Japanese tsunami victims and their families that has been set up in the backyard of this kind man, Itaru. He initially set it up to talk to his cousin who has been missing. People heard about the shrine and started coming and making phone calls. The shrine contains a plain, rotary dial telephone with no cord. It sits on a shelf in a white and blue trimmed, windowed booth that looks out over the ocean.
The Phone Booth
I listened as a giant, black wave swept a town away
Japanese voices are yelling, “All the houses are washing away”
There are no sound effects only actual voices
(I should tell you, this is a podcast and I am painting a wall while I listen.)
My brush moves slower and slower as the story pours out.
Much slower than the tidal wave which took only 30 minutes
for a black wall to wipe the house-sticks, boxy cars, and live people away.
“Missing” is the word that repeats, hundreds of missing people.
This man, Itaru, has a telephone booth in his backyard.
He uses the phone to talk to his cousin who has been missing for 5 years.
The phone is on a shelf, in a white trimmed booth, with a blue sky roof, in
a green garden surrounded by plants and flowers with
the ocean at a safe distance.
There is no phone line from the “Kaze no denwa” – the wind telephone.
The wind telephone sits in an open garden on a windy hill.
There are photos on the shelf in the booth, incense burning.
Itaru leaves fresh fruit and flowers every day for his cousin.
Other people hear about the Kaze no denwa and show up at all times.
They walk through the garden shrine, into the windowed room.
A TV crew comes and gets everyone’s permission to place
a camera at a distance to record the calls from a microphone in the booth.
“Hi grandpa, how are you? I’ll be ub forth grade next summer, wasn’t
that fast. I am giving the phone to Mama now.”
She picks up the phone and listens, only listens…
This is the way most conversations go. Catching up on the family news.
But not always.
It is winter with snow all around the phone booth.
The black phone receiver is lifted by a man who calls his wife.
His wife, daughter, and mother are all missing.
A dialing sound is heard… I have stopped painting.
“Mom?” (He calls his wife Mom)
“It’s so cold. But you are not getting cold, are you?
Are Grandma and our daughter, Miyuki with you too?
Be found soon. Everyone is waiting for you….OK?”
“I’ll build the house for you in the same place.”
“Eat something,” he pauses, “anything.”
“Just be alive, somewhere, anywhere.
I am so lonely.”
I’m holding on to the wall, my paint brush is dripping white paint.
The wall that I am painting has many flaws waiting to be covered.
I am listening to the phone calls and my tears are diluting the paint.
The world is an unsteady place of earthquakes and large waves.
The world is also a place where people are building houses and
waiting for the lost to return.
Installing telephones, talking with love voices
and listening in silence
while holding a phone whose cord is connected to what they long to hear.