9/17, 19:50

with Kim at Matsuyama Airport

Arriving at Matsuyama Airport I am greeted outside the door by Kimiyo Tanaka and Hiromi Inoue. Magically, they weave a spell that puts me totally at ease. We stop at a restaurant where I am photographed having a beer. On the way to Hiromi's I babble from weariness, mumbling my way toward a new adventure.

9/17/20:50 more or less

At Hiromi's house I meet his wife Naoko and their eight-year-old son, Tomoyuki. In some sense, it feels as if I already know them. They make the strange and awkward moments into a graceful and domestic ballet. I am shown my room (very comfortable) where I deposit my luggage. Downstairs I present Naoko and Hiromi with a totem a friend carved from an ailanthus tree. When the friend asked if I would present the work to my host in Japan, I was a little reluctant as it was heavyc interestingcbut not so pretty. Still, I knew he had worked in a fever to polish and detail the work before my departure and one thing I must respect is an artistic feverc

jet lag-
a wide-eyed totem stares
at the potted asters

jet lag-
a wide-eyed totem stares
into the living room

9/18/ 6 a.m

This morning I hear roosters and the whoosh of traffic on an unseen highway; crows cawing in a tone I think is more hoarse than the crows sound at home. While cool air billows the curtains, I sit on the edge of the bed and listen to this new world, until fog lightens on the mountain; until morning doves coo. The morning doves sound hoarse too; Like little barking dogs. I am Earl in Wonderland. I am an automaton from another dimension. Sound is different here. Or I am unsound. I think I have a kind of fever. I will never write another competent haiku. I am in over my head. Whatever is expected of me will not strike the hour.

the morning dove's song,
familiar and strange-
Matsuyama

summer morning-
clouds sketch a mountain
over the mountain

Eventually I hear the overture of pots and dishes as a kitchen symphony begins. It is a comforting sound and one I remember even from the crib. Neither time nor geography has changed the tonal distinctiveness of voices blended with china and sunlight. It is time for the cricket to breakfast with his hosts (toast, eggs, sausage - the sausage a little different from standard American sausage).
Over breakfast Hiromi discusses our itinerary and then goes off to work. Tom has already left for school. Finishing a pot of coffee, which I am delighted to see, will be offered in abundance - I decide to go for a walk around the neighborhood. I decide this partly out of a natural curiosity and partly because I want to grant Naoko some space. I do not want to give the impression I must be baby-sat. I know how difficult it can be to entertain even a welcome guest. Outside I take a picture of the not so distant mountains.

clear morning-
making room for the mountains
in my camera

Stopping at a roadside vending machine I use my Japanese currency for the first time (received as reimbursement for plane fare that morning). Though it is a small thing, it is nonetheless a big event for a West Virginia steelworker. I purchase a can of Qoo, which as it turns out is a product of the Coco-Cola Company. Very like an orange pop. I study the machine as if it were the only solid connection to a tentative universe; as if it will be the only thing I will see in Japan; as if I am waiting for Godot.


morning in Japan-
I purchase a can of Qoo,
drinking it all in

Aquarius, two unidentifiable cans (Japanese labeling), Royal Milk Tea, Georgia Original Coffee, Georgia Original Cafe Au Lait, Georgia The Blend, Georgia The Columbia, Emblem, Coco-Cola bottles, two tea bottles, Georgia Double Drip, Georgia Double Drip, Georgia Emerald Mountain Blend, Daily Care Real Gold, Water Salad, Qoo, Fanta Orange, Sprite, Coco-Cola cans. Coke can be purchased for a hundred yen. The coffee drinks, Qoo, Real Gold, Water Salad for 120 yen. Close by there is a flower garden. A short pathway circles large, cream-colored trumpet flowers in a stone ring.

trumpet flowers,
like stethoscopes to the air-
I am so amazed