Tag Archives: Tokyo

Pink Runners


Mother holds
her daughter
on the train
to Tokyo.

Heavy-headed girl
wants to sleep.

Mother pulls a
small plastic bag
from her purse,
a bag designed
for vegetables
at the grocery store,
and she removes
each small shoe,
cotton candy runners,
carefully lifts
each foot and
places it back down
and she packs
the small shoes
in the plastic bag
and tucks the bag
in her purse
and her daughter
pulls in closer,
wraps her arms
around her mother
and looks
around the train
as if to say
I am so lucky

Ode to Air France


On the 12 hour flight
from Paris to Tokyo
Air France serves ice cream
in the middle of the night.

A champagne apéritif,
brie with dinner
and rosemary-flavored crackers
whenever you want them.

In the middle of boarding
an attendant with a stylish chignon
brought me water
after a cross-airport run
left me wilted.
she found
an extra pillow
cheerfully red
to make my flight
more comfortable.

Air France is
the closest I get
to first class
while seated
in economy.




The bothersome bit
is that even people
we don’t like
reflect us back
to ourselves.

I’ll hear a comment
that makes me bonkers
because it is unkind
because I know
I have that
in me.

That person’s mirror
is a warning.

mirrors the very best of me,
that curious geeky girl
who still walks
down sidewalks

Life Design: Making a Photograph


This post is part of a weekly series about designing your life.
Peter Turnley, an American photographer I admire, talks about “making” a photograph instead of taking one. I puzzled over this at first.

Then I read this quotation from the poet Mary Oliver: “Attention without feeling is only a report.”

Ah! We make photographs in the same way that we make poetry which is to say that we feel our way to the truth.

Technical skills will not help you coax a flower into showing you its personality. The flower doesn’t care how expensive your camera is or how many months you’ve spent mastering exposure.

You love the flower, it loves you back. Just like words… and people.

On Saturday I spent the day in three neighbourhoods in central Tokyo: Tokyo Tower, Hiro-o and Ebisu. I walked through the city taking photographs with my heart {and Instagram}. I’ve shared them here as smaller photographs, the way they appear on my iPhone, like little gifts.


tokyo tower





divine feminine





Just like a Japanese girl


On the train home from Tokyo
seats always open up at Kikuna
as if its the last station
before we change galaxies.
I pounce on a vacant seat,
almost crushing a ten year old boy
with spiky hair and a navy blazer
gunning for the same spot.
His friend drags him out
by the scruff of his neck
like a kitten.

There’s still an open seat
beside me.
The three boys look at the seat
and then at me
my strange foreign ampleness
and my red hair.

They stare. I return
to the reading of poems
on my iPhone while Ed Sheeran
croons into my headphones.

At Yokohama Station
we enter the next galaxy
in our train universe.
Black suits disembark
and another seat opens up,
easily enough space
for three little boy butts.
The boys eye the seats
form a little huddle
near me
no longer afraid
but not able to commit
to sitting down.

At Minato-Mirai they tumble
One has forgotten
his umbrella, a good one
not the clear one
from a convenience store
and he runs back on the train
where I hand him the umbrella
and he’s bowing backwards
tripping off the car.
Arigato gozaimasu
he says.
Thank you very much.

His friends are halfway up the stairs,
halfway to their next adventure.
Umbrella boy waves
or something
as the train pulls away.

Perhaps, over dinner,
he’ll tell his parents
“There was this woman
on the train
and she was so round
and more pink than white
and she had red hair
Yeah, like really red.
Just like a Japanese girl.”

The Elevator


We rode the elevator
from the park
down to the metro station
which feels surreal anyway
like Alice in Wonderland
plunging down the rabbit hole.

On the second floor
we stopped for
four young teachers,
each of them leading
three toddlers
in red baseball caps.

I tucked Damien behind me.
We’re a little scary to Japanese children.
So round and pink.
So tall and brown.

As each teacher entered,
she moved her three children
to make room for the others.
I thought of those
primary coloured
snap lock beads
from when I was a kid.
The pieces snapped apart
to make the necklace
or longer.
You could bend it around.

The doors kissed closed
and we were six adults
and twelve children.
The car heaved
with cuteness
and although
we were descending
the air got thinner.
I started to laugh.

Some of the small heads
turned up
towards us.
Their eyes were large with
“What are they?”

The bell dinged.
As the doors slid open
I thought we might spill out
like marbles
onto the concrete floor,
rolling past groves of shiny black shoes
and dogs straining on their leashes.

The teachers unsnapped the necklace,
led the children off
in their tiny groups
and down into the metro
where I imagine them riding still
in Tokyo’s basement.
Small superheroes
in red baseball caps.