In the aftermath of storms
there is the longing to unravel illusions,
to decipher the necessity of distance,
that invisible enemy between us.
Freed from the confinement of ceilings,
where the heaving chest of the night
was a heavy wind bearing down on the windows
and rooftops like a red phoenix unfurled
in the imagination.
Highlighted by lightning, it undergoes a rebirth.
The needle point of the Hongwanji Temple
was plugged directly into the sky,
harnessing the weather, grounding the energy,
scattering leaves to run marathons
all night through the empty streets.
Nothing bends to the will of nature like the trees.
Shaking free of what is unnecessary,
you’re left with the essence and the spirit.
In the aftermath we can verify
that the riots that leave debris
weren’t merely an aspect of sleep.
Through the kaleidoscope of canopies
we see the sky is no longer in tatters.
Limbs stretched and battered,
still stand rooted to resistance.
All through the storm we cling to our positions,
like A’ama crabs to the black rocks of heavy restrictions.
They’ll insist we go nowhere until the next wave passes.
Gripped and transfixed by satellite images,
those slow moving monsters drawing near to tiny islands.
Dwarfed by the unconscious,
we’ll look to the deep to justify the fear.
In the aftermath everything is eerily quiet.
Real or imagined, the scars on the land are evident,
even the incoherent ramblings
of those who sleep in doorways
have taken their grievances elsewhere.
No cars on the road, though the gas stations never closed,
no stoplights to slow the ride straight through to Chinatown.
Looking among the markets and the overturned fruit,
following the scent of jasmine incense in the pursuit
of something material, something alive.
The once bustling city is now like a fish on ice.
The harbor ships, anchored and tied down.
Silent are the masts above gang planks
where no congregation awaits.
It’s a landscape of closed gates,
a vacant wasteland of boarded shopfronts.
In the aftermath there’s a longing
for the lively din of a cafe.
To sit and eavesdrop
on the espresso pounding words into type,
breathing life into the spaces
dominated by the headlines
if only to defy and cut through the lies between us.
They say the storm just missed us,
minimal damage but there will be another,
there’s always another excuse to shelter
and from each other maintain the distance.
Down by the shoreline the ocean offers no resistance.
Passing its amorphous border
to become absorbed in something larger
than discordant thoughts.
A suspension of will
to an entity no longer paternal,
it never insisted it was protecting.
In the aftermath of being besieged,
it is ironically the sea,
once seen as the source of the calamity,
that now brings a sense of serenity.
The sea exists somehow parallel,
and through the embrace of the elemental
it has the power to transform
in the aftermath of any storm.