Posts Tagged ‘ Anne ’

*: a poem I wrote four years ago, forgot, then found…

a poem I wrote four years ago, forgot, then found tonight: 

you can listen to an mp3 of that 37 second recording of walt whitman at the same time your lover listens to a midi mix of here comes the sun, this the full politics

of the ear’s occupation.  Hazel says, as I brush her hair, “you are only allowed to think of an event as a tragedy once you are already dead”

in this america which lasts exactly 37 seconds and is difficult to interpret

these were the best intentions, and also, the voice’s congenial classless intoning, and knowing also that there are around us these spectres of the once vastly perceived

and ample: law and love still, willed

to us, an anachronistic inheritance, or, ruined broad forethought, or national art / these commons kept in a mattress like a currency of a confederacy never formed.

I will say it straight that I am this morning vacillating  between the routine of shipwrecked despair and the storm itself  wrecking, undecided about the durability of either

I walked aboard that ship, long ago shattered. Things were different.  I once was at sail robust and undiminished, probably a boy

and then most scars and also holidays and every unformed infant impossible, my very form — a boy’s and sailor’s — allergic to despair

and how unplagued by tragedy’s impossible definition I was the one dreaming in each bed into which I fell

and me, Anne Boyer,  falling,  also, in the sunlight, into a reverie against alien architectures and simultaneously into a boyish engineering

(from which I have forged)

of those remnants by which I now form, at least, a substance,  imagine an unalien end.

*: a poem I wrote four years ago, forgot, then found….

a second letter from Anne, in Sendai

On March 22, 2011, Anne, an American Buddhist teaching English in Sendai, wrote her second letter.

Dear Family and Friends,

This morning on TV we watched a baby being born. The mother was an evacuee in a shelter, but miraculously had been able to get to a hospital when labor began. It was so joyous to watch this teeny girl emerging into the world and to hear her first loud, healthy wail. The camera shifted from the infant to the smiling face of the nurse and on the rather stunned, but please expression of the father. Life goes on. And everywhere there are efforts to remind us of that reality, even in these times of great disaster and tragedy.

Signs of hope continue to flood in from all sides. Yesterday an 80 year-old woman and her 16 year-old grandson were dug out of the rubble of their home, nine days after the tsumani hit. They had been trapped in their kitchen, so were able to survive on the bit of food they could squeeze out of their refrigerator.

In Kesennuma all the surviving fishermen got together and started planning how to reorganize their livelihood from the sea. They joined with the sellers of the early morning wholesale market. And as a group they began laying the foundation for a new system for the fishing industry in their area.

TV news is very informative with maps, diagrams, scale models of the nuclear site and devastated areas. Experts answer questions and give clear, simple-to-understand explanations. And they make sure to have stories about the survivors and their courageous attitudes and actions for survival.

People in evacuation centers are interviewed each evening. All of them express their gratitude and thanks to those who rescued and are caring for them. Many ask for family members to contact them if they can. And all say that life in the shelters is slowly improving. In one a beautician has figured out a way to wash people’s hair, for example. And in another volunteers put on clown shows to give everyone a good laugh. In some centers everyone is sent elsewhere for a few days so the place can be cleaned and repaired. Much of that work is being done by high school volunteers. Likewise, the army and Red Cross have brought in hundreds of portable toilets, which are very needed.

Last night, too, tankers filled with gasoline arrived in Shiogama, a port just south of Sendai. Once gasoline is available to the average citizen, things will change considerably. But first it will be used for emergency vehicles, of course.

The government has sorted out alternative land routes to get to this area. The main road up the backbone of Honshu Island is in disarray, and the branch roads off of it to the Pacific coast are almost totally gone. So, now people make a huge loop around the western side of the island, going from Tokyo to Niigata on the Japan Sea. Then they swing either up the coast or inland towards Fukushima, Miyagi, and Iwate, the prefectures most strongly hit by the earthquake and tsunami. Transport must go by small, circuitous back roads. But eventually they arrive. Many people are coming up from Tokyo, bringing huge bundles of food, clothing, blankets, and medical supplies for their families. The trip, which in normal circumstances takes about five hours, can take longer than thirteen. But those few extra hours seem irrelevant considering the enormity of need.

It was encouraging to hear that young people have stopped carrying make-up and cheesy photos of each other in their handbags, but rather have water, flashlights, extra batteries, and high-energy snacks. They are devoting their time to helping their families and others in need. “This is a time I must support my family,” they say. “I need to be there for them.”

Before this catastrophe I knew that Japan was a culture of the collective. But I had not deeply comprehended what that meant. I used to accept, but wonder about students having club activities that took up almost all of their free time, including before and after school, weekends and holidays, and even cutting into study time. But when I see them now, able to work together in obedient unity, I can see how everything in this culture fits together. Somehow having students appear in uniform, all working together, seems to give a sense of stability. It is like strong steel pillars holding up a house. Civil servants are also all wearing blue or beige workmen uniforms. At this time of crisis everyone is equal; everyone is doing their level best to hold this country together and to move it forward.

There are still enormous problems. Children looking for parents, people living in cars or trucks, not enough food or medicines, thousands still unaccounted for, tens of thousands in shelters. Rows and rows of dead waiting to be blessed and buried. But the careful, panic-free, step-by-step work towards recovery is happening and will continue to do so, I am sure, for many, many more years to come.