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Pickle Me This

April 18, 2005

Six Mats & One Year

Six Mats & One Year is a beautiful book by Canadian poet Alison Smith, about the time she spent in Japan. In three weeks today, we are leaving Japan to fly to England and let the future begin. The feeling of coming to love a place so well we may never see again is awfully tragic. I have cried more than once lately while looking at the mountains from the train, and I can’t quite believe we’re actually going. It’s strange to be frantically counting down and cherishing every second at the same time.

I really love this poem.

Under-Country
by Alison Smith

I have pushed off and landed far away
but you travel with me as under-country
always close enough to pull here,
a blanket lost in sleep.

Small details have caught under heart
like hair under a painting on a wall:
in the dark they rupture the familiar.
If I were to return
the cities would seem smaller.
Everyday your volcanic reality
shrinks into columns of print
while dream, in dimension of depth
and meaning, continues its expansion.
Words that follow-
When I was in Japan-
will soon outsize you.

I left as we do our childhoods:
rushing to escape, without souvenirs.
I collected no sake cups
no tsukemono plates.
All this time
a core of miso grew.

(You can read my review of her book at my ne’er updated book review website, Now Reading. I bought my copy online from Northwest Passages– Canadian Literature Online)

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