The Survivors

1.
A.
Her first child,
off to school,
was swept away
by the tsunami.
But she has one left
whom she told.
his brother isn’t coming back
anymore.
She holds back her tears
but she will carry
this grief forever:
that she still lives
while her firstborn
on the ocean floor lies.
Even her heart
will cringe
in silent madness…

B.
The list grows longer
everyday.
Names are secret utterances
of the survivors
that loved ones are still out there –
under the rubble, in the sea –
alive, languishing…
Of course,
who would dare concede
the notes pinned on the board
are virtual epitaphs,
that they remember.
& hoping against hope…

C.
The rescuers bow their heads
in prayer.
They will not allow photographs
of the dead.
Such is the sacred rule by the living
for the departed.

2.
He is a nervous wreck
these days.
If only he can suspend himself
in mid-air:
anytime the earth may open up
under his feet
& swallow him into its depths.
Even if he busies himself
with daily duties,
the Big One may strike,
ending all his fear & anxieties,
all his joy & grief.
The thought of his passion
won’t suffice
as he goes down, down
the molten core.

3.
Yes, if only he can hang
like a Soleil acrobat
between heaven & hell,
but he’s not an eagle
which can soar
above the clouds
in the tremblor of the gyrating air.
All dreams die
in a dismal way
& what about her
who seizes his waking days?
None matters,
all turns to dust
& ignoble despair.
None can explain
the whys & wherefores
of liminal grid.
& he,
abandoned like a child
on a block of ice
floating down the waterway,
hopelessly cries.

4.
The oldtimer can’t believe
his eyes:
the women come flooding
through the gates
with Japanese surnames,
as if blessed by the Kempeitais
who, in his own time,
cut his ear,
almost executing him
but for a sudden change of mind,
picking out the poor guy
down the line,
beheading seppuku style.
Now, they’re prattling
days with Japanese farmers
& Yakuza thugs
have been so damned easy,
bearable,
unlike in their old sleepy barrios
where their kids
cannot run around
on white rubber shoes.
He can’t still hack it
that these virgins
(in France, they were shaved
of their blonde locks
like skinheads
to mark them out
as Nazi harlots)
would get fucked by his
sworn torturers.
O what was grievously wrong then
is venerably right now?
He is stuck
in his own time zone
& will never move out of the shadow.

5.
But how do you live
without being haunted
by the lost voices of children
that ring in your ears?
The pitterpatter in the playground,
the cradled cries in the night…
It is a nightmare to survive,
to be alive.
Who can sleep soundly through it all?
The soft glow of sunrise
is shuttered from your eyes…

6.
Babu,
Tami Akunuma’s shih-tzu,
dashed out of the house
as though sniffing
a morbid frenzy in the air.
She ran after her
with her 83-year-old body,
huffing and puffing –
& terribly puzzled
why her animal companion
would so madly behave…
She reached the hill –
just in time
as in a cheap movie
where the monster
is about to close in,
when seawater broke loose
past the ocean shore…
O How she hugged her dog
for reading God’s message
while thousands of humans
of superior IQ
didn’t have a clue.
Now, Babu sees her playmates,
orphaned by their masters,
stare at the horizon,
as if waiting.

7.
It is their sworn duty,
according to the rite
of the Bushido.
Putting on their protective gear
they waded through
the radioactive water
like alien zombies
trooping to rectify matters.
The heroic act
is suicidal
for who can survive, anyway,
a nuclear fall-out?
But there is the duty
to carry out
& wash the blood off
corporate hands…
O you who are about to die
virtually salute
the kindred spirits
who had gone ahead.

8.
They were there,
breathing agonizingly
through the oxygen apparatus,
lying in bed
securely dry
but how swiftly they ended up
on the ocean floor
when water rose up
to the quiet hospital wards.
Is God merciful?
In a flash
there was the blinding explosion
of dark,
never allowing them
the time to grieve
& ask tormentedly why.

9.
But, of course,
it is his hometown, Sendai;
he promises
to raise it from the ashes.
Where is he to go, anyway?
Any country elsewhere
will be alien, unfriendly.
He will rather
lie with his dead,
than leave.
Certainly a strange habit,
almost an idee fixe,
but he can only pick up
the pieces:
a universal story
for lovers,
a scavenger’s creed.

10.
Always, a “bad news” day:
quakes & tsunamis,
wars & national strikes
against autocrats
& generals..
He wakes up
wary of how the day begins:
Is the sky full of grim presentiment?
Is the air as clean as sunlight?
He promises to grind it out
& keep his sanity intact:
To live by small graces
of friends on streets and pubs
strangers who bump into him
& light up;
women who passionately tease him
into their hearts…
O to let the minutes flow
like a mountain river
into an ocean of hours
& across the cusp of the infinite
where happiness
probably exists.

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