The Innisfree Poetry Journal

by Yoko Danno


                               Praise to Hayagriva!
horse-headed Kannon, the goddess of mercy
                            with three wrathful faces

For a week my sister wouldn't talk to me because I was two hours late for an appointment. My daughter blamed me because I had planted cucumbers instead of pansies in her flower garden. My husband blew his top because I reproached him for having lost a piece of my jigsaw puzzle. A total misunderstanding―actually I had lost it. Ashamed of myself, I clasped a kitchen knife tightly. I had nothing to hold onto within reach.

I dashed out of the house like a racehorse, repeating a sentence in my mind, "Once the connection between man and horse is broken, when the heart skips a beat, and the fence to be cleared looms high." I run on, heading for the mouth of the river so that I could let all my sins and worries flow away along with my shoes and clothes and underwearjust like our ancient people would have done in a purification ceremony.  

Later I returned to the house. Through the kitchen window, a breeze was streaming in. The homeless cat came punctually to his favorite spot in the shade of a full-blown azalea and lay down. The live picture beyond the window frame was given a bright finishing touch when the sun came out from behind the clouds. I was cutting chives to make noodle soup for lunch. I felt slightly uneasy when I realized I had not felt this kind of perfection for a long time.

If only I could find the missing piece of my jigsaw. Would the world be changed? Would the harmonious whole once hurt be restored? I have cut chives a thousand times in my life. I have watched the clouds break and reveal the sun, which is nothing out of the ordinary. I have often seen the stray cat sitting under a blossoming tree. But I have never experienced perfect harmony―on the verge of falling apart with the smallest of actions.  

"Keep your wound open," a lama once said. "How can you feel the faintest breeze if a scab has formed over it?" Wishing to sustain the precarious moment as long as possible, I froze. The breeze dropped. The breathless silence was broken by the shrill call of a butcher-bird. The cat rose and bristled. Somehow relieved, I resumed cutting chives, with an approving smile. A thin cloud was brushing over the sun.

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