Walking to Old (Japan, 1983)
I met an old woman. I watched her, hunched,
ready a space for the dead to eat
white rice in a smooth black laquer bowl.
I suppose she slid in under me -
like the steps of our festival steps.
I met an old woman walking to the public baths,
metal basin and cloth
pressed firmly against her hip.
I suppose she slid in under me - like splendid wet heat
letting down her wrinkled skin.
I met an old woman in a striped farmer's jacket,
bent, beneath a cloth sack
flattened down her spine.
I suppose she slid in under me - like tired bones.
Have you worked forever?
I met three women - in passing
I suppose they slid in under me
like a road.
[First appeared in Red Hills Review]
Photograph by Emily Scudder. Japan. 1983