Poetry Friday: Cross Currents

Zen Temple Altar in Kamakura, Japan, 2000.

Zen Temple Altar in Kamakura, Japan, 2000.


Cicadas shrill at a Zen temple garden
in Kamakura where we light incense
and drink green tea under red umbrellas.
He tells me, “I’m afraid to go home.”
I sip some tea and watch the temple cat
roll onto her back, swatting the air.
“I was afraid to leave home,” I say.
The cicadas sound like the energy
I imagine between two atoms
exchanging positive and negative charges
like the colliding currents
of the Pacific I crossed to meet him here—
where his ending and my beginning meet
for the first time.

Courtney Putnam, c. 2003


A 2000 version of myself bonding with the temple cat.

In 2000 I traveled to Tokyo, Japan to visit my brother Robb where he had been living for the past five years. This was my first big traveling venture on my own and my brother was just ending his Japan adventure. He was going to be returning to the U.S. in a few months. I stayed for a short eight days, but during this time I immersed myself in the beautiful juxtapositions and  paradoxes of Japan. High tech city life gently pressed up against bamboo forests, temples, and bronze Buddhas. My eyes widened. My heart seemed to expand. My mind began to easily accept the juxtapositions of modern life and old traditions, fear and delight, being young and growing older, and the poignancy of beginnings and endings.

About Courtney Putnam

I first came to healing work through art and writing. Creating collage art and poetry in particular allowed me to deeply understand the benefit of self-expression in the healing process. But, I also began to see the benefit of bodywork (manual work in the form of massage and energywork in the form of Reiki) as keys to unlocking the emotional stresses we hold in our bodies. I became a Reiki practitioner in 2002, received an MFA in Creative Writing in 2003, received my massage license in the spring of 2006, and became a Reiki Master in 2010. In my practice I bring together these three areas -- the body, the mind, and the spirit (or energy body) -- so others may experience profound and positive change in their lives.
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