Variation on Lovers, Reunited for the Summer in Japan

The first week of my visit, when I was still reeling

from the price of shrink-wrapped apples,

you came home dying to explain how the Japanese combine

"word" with "temple" to make

"poem." Your students had shown you.

Each morning while you worked, I hung laundry

on the line and readied your lunch at noon. I didn't mind,

because free time was your deliberate gift.

We had met in Prague and I believed,

the way I would believe

a knife at my throat, that I could love no one

who hadn't shared that city with me.

Our plans were as precise

as a rice paddy's balance

of water and green shoots: you would stay, finish

your contract, meet me in England

in a year. I did not know then

that decisions can land inches from my naked

eye, like sharp tree limbs. Maybe

what your students said about female heat was true.

Women can't be sushi chefsā€”their passionate nature

cooks the fish. Those long days

folding shirts and filling journals

gave me time to wonder if our love fit

the way the Japanese believe geta should:

slightly too short for the wearer's feet.

The morning after I flew home,

you taught verb tenses in Fuji City: she will go,

she is going, she has gone.