Wednesday, April 11, 2018

NaProWriMo Day 10: Market District, Japan, 1945

Prompt: Write a poem of simultaneity, in which multiple things are happening at once.

I think I must have struggled with this damn deceptively simple prompt, for the better part of five hours. What is it about simple prompts anyway? I finally started looking through historical photographs and researching 'Today In History', which didn't exactly help either, until I came across this photograph. It took another hour plus to finally start writing, on top of a persnickety migraine, and it was a sloooooow process, especially the last few lines.

But poem got written at least!



MARKET DISTRICT, JAPAN, 1945


There were lanterns, or were they lights
Branches of them curved like triumphal arches
Over the street. Shops, stacked beside each other
Like vertical shoeboxes, brimming with
Trinkets, knick-knacks, kimono-clad women
Flitting like colourful butterflies, wide sleeve wings
Fluttering elegant with the turn of a wrist
A brush of rosy-tipped fingers.
Horses and bicycles, steeds of nature and artifice
Criss-crossing paths in deliberate, measured grids.
A child ran across the street, painted wooden toy
Clutched in a chubby waving fist, laughter gurgling, rising
Like heat blooming from the horses’ backs, from the sweaty faces
Of old men serenely manuevering their sack-laden way down roads levelled
By thousands of footsteps to and fro, fro and to.

A dragonfly shimmered briefly in the still air, a scarlet splash
On the inky-black hair of a girl cocooned in shibori-dyed indigo
Her mouth an O of delight: Aka-tombo! They bring good luck!


It took to the air as the bomb fell, two sighs in flight.


***

Note: The photograph is from https://rarehistoricalphotos.com/hiroshima-atomic-bombing-1945/, and is the Hiroshima Market District, before the atomic bomb was dropped. Aka-tombo, red dragonflies, are considered good luck in Japan (there's even a very famous traditional song about them.)

12 comments:

Jane Dougherty said...

Wow! That is powerful. You paint such a bustling, lively scene, focus in on an insect then drop a bomb on it. Great writing!

Shuku said...

Oh Jane, if only you knew how much the 'drop a bomb on it' made me laugh! I really needed that today, it's been One Of Those Days. Thank you so much! I will eventually get my brain around that Words and Truth poem (I'm going to say it's just extendedly percolating for now...)

Shannon Blood said...

A truly intense poem! And I hear you about the deceptive nature of simple prompts -- I struggled, too!

Shuku said...

Thank you Shannon! Yes, those dratted deceptively simple prompts that turn your brain into a stuck record that vibrates but can't move...I have a feeling we'll have a few more of 'em to come. High-five to fellow strugglers!

Smitha said...

A very powerful poem. Love the way the dragon fly has been brought into the poem.

Shuku said...

Thank you Smitha! It took a while to get the dragonfly in there properly. I'm glad it worked!

Ken Gierke / rivrvlogr said...

You turned "every day" into one day with just one line. "two sighs in flight" is a beautiful finish. If only it had been just one sigh, but the other can't be taken back.
Ken

Shuku said...

Thank you so much Ken - the last line gave me *fits* for ages! I kept thinking about how quietly things fall and how quietly dragonflies fly and tried to work from there. So glad it worked!

Maria Lawrence said...

Wonderful imagery. I feel present in this poem, like I witnessed it. Thanks for writing.

Elizabeth Boquet said...

It may have been a slow process but you nailed this one -- especially the imagery -- wow! Tough prompt for me, too. Congrats!

Shuku said...

Thank you Marie! I'm glad the imagery made sense.

Shuku said...

Oh-so-slow process, snailing along! I thought I'd never write it at all! Thank you so much - *highfive for tough prompt sufferers* C'est mal (is that right? My French is a shambles after years of neglect. I can only read recipes now.) Tough maybe, but oh I love how you conjugated your son so perfectly!