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
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.