Photo walk

Japanese word for celebration

celebrationcelebration

Laughter rolls
down the street
ahead of them
like marbles.

People step out
of the way,
pleased
to make room
for such joy.

We two
quietly yearn
to join the celebration,
this particular way
of being happy
in the company
of others.

Extravagant
and careless.

Red balloon days.

{The Japanese word for celebration is shukugakai.}

Shanghai: Accelerated City

Shanghai, China
March 2013
Context Travel walk: Accelerated City
Our walk began in a section of the Old City slated for demolition and ended on the Pudong side of the river in two of the highest buildings on earth.
{Progress is in the eye of the beholder.}

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The light in Chinatown

123457891011121314151617181920There are places
where the light alone
is worth the trip.

Florence
where we ate
the late afternoon light
with a spoon.

Paris.
Vienna.
Amsterdam.
Glowing little corners.

On a cold winter morning
we three friends explored
Chinatown in Yokohama.

We found this light.
This golden treat.

Following happiness home

what is it about friday afternoon
that makes us giddy?
i love my work
(even when it’s exhausting…
all good things are, sometimes)
but friday afternoons
leave me effervescent,
light and fizzy
like a pink drink with an umbrella
sipped on a beach.

perhaps
it’s the promise
of all that freedom.
48 hours
of exactly what i choose
and nothing else.

yes.

yesterday
these two school girls
in their navy uniforms
and i walked home
from school.
(our students don’t wear uniforms.
i wonder what it’s like.)
they walked very close
to each other
merging their selves
like girls do when we love.
as we neared the park,
the girls began to run.
my heart jumped
and wanted to follow.

in the park
a tiny two-year old in a purple dress
with white polka dots
stared at a small bush
as if it were
a work of art.
(it is.)
she leaned towards it
and whispered.
{oh, how i wish
i understood japanese.}

two teachers
and ten small students
skipped rope on the grass
outside the escalator.
they sang while they skipped.
skip. skip. skip.

outside the daycare,
two women pushed six toddlers
in a trolley
(the kind normally used
for delivering mail
in offices too big
to know everyone’s name.)
the wee ones,
dressed in pastels
like easter eggs,
were standing up in the trolley,
looking about and laughing.
their giggles made me laugh
and also
the girl just ahead of me.
as we rode down in the escalator,
she kept turning around
to look at the babies.
the girl wore small, round glasses
and she seemed especially smart.
at the ground floor
she tore off to catch her train
to the neon city.

at the exit
onto motomachi shopping street
a boy and a girl held up their hands
to the sky.
it was raining
confident, plump drops
and the pair seemed delighted
at this sudden change
in the weather.

crossing the street
i fell into step
behind a tall teenage boy
in a red baseball cap.
he was nodding his head
to the music from his ipod.
by the time we reached
the red light
head nodding
had turned to dancing.
(this kid had swag.)
the japanese people
moved back slightly,
surprised at this sudden outburst
of joy
at street level.

he crossed the street
dancing.
i followed him
dancing in my own way.
happy.
happy in my own way
on a friday afternoon.

the walk home

i’d like to take a moment
to remember
how often the sweetest
things
in life
are also the simplest.

it had been raining hard
all afternoon
and when the bell rang
the kids went running
from the building
with yells
and stolen umbrellas.

by the time i left school
the sun was pushing her blonde head
through steel grey clouds.
the concrete was still wet
and the sun bounced there
like hard red rubber balls
in a playground.

at the end of golden week
in japan
the bluff was filled
with tourists
admiring the city
from the cemetery.
(a strange but true vantage point.)
the late-afternoon sun
made their faces soft
and kind.

the world smelled new.

i walked home.