For her daughter’s sake, or for a whim,
Chisato’s mother, ancient spry and tiny elf,
Led me to the temple corner where she’d left
And blossoms, and a celadon statuette - of
Kannon, Goddess of
Mercy, standing on dragon coils,
willow wand and water jar
held in her hands.
“There’s a white snake -
she tells me, as her child translates,
because it’s beautiful (I’m not sure
if she means the offering or the place.)
She wants to know if you want to have?
She says she can send it
Anywhere in the world.”
I’m frightened, but I answer yes.
I haven’t seen it, yet, but Gabriella
Said it waits, behind the door
In a yellow room, that’s hidden somehow
Within this space. Upon her dreaming foot
It pressed the mighty weight of
It’s protective tooth.
And she, a seer of
The elemental truth
Was spared (because she’s good) and made
For me a diagram
Of room and door, with where
And how of feet and snake. On it
She wrote, Dear Dan,
Thank you for the healing sleep
In your beautiful house, and
For the dream that will never be
Forgotten. Please give my regards
To the white snake
When you meet him. Love – then
Off she flew, back to Iceland.
Years have coiled round
The world, since I stood
In the incense fragrant temple shade,
And Chisato’s mother has passed away,
Before I could understand, much less relate
The meaning of the gift
Dreams flow, friends and lovers
come and go, clouds cross the moon,
the floorboards creak ~ at night I hear
rain dripping from the eaves and
know I'm safe.
Goddess of Mercy, who listens with
Compassion to the sounds of all the
Please inform her
the gift is here, and though
I’ve neglected until today
To set out rice and flower
For the little snake,
I am grateful.