What Edges Hold
By which I mean those lines framed in certainty: the demarcation of sunlight and shadow. Kami signifies not spirit, but rather that force above man.
Never religion, but life itself: the mountains, trees, the rocks. Lightning.
Or waves, thundering off the coast, lured by the moon.
Stirring the water with a spear, Izanagi dripped an island into being.
Separate the ordinary through limitation, by practice, by ritual and space.
Another night in the twisted trees. The god-shelf.
Recognize that wind respects no borders.
Knowing that to the east questions may respond to answers I have long
suspected, I look elsewhere. After the vowel, the consonant.
Though torii differ in style, each retains two posts and a crosspiece.
After the consonant, the winnowed tunnel, extinguished light.
At the gate, bow respectfully, then enter. Ladle water from right to left,
then left to right. Pour it into your left hand, then cleanse your mouth.
Invert and regard the precipice.
I have placed one foot in their sphere. The other still searches.
This originally appeared in April 2014 as part of Boston Review‘s National Poetry Month Celebration.