Sans soleil

He wrote me that in the suburbs of Tokyo
there is a temple consecrated to cats.

I wish I could convey to you the simplicity
—the lack of affectation—

of this couple who had come to place
an inscribed wooden slat in the cat cemetery

so their cat Tora would be protected.
No she wasn't dead, only run away.
But on the day of her death no one
would know how to pray for her,

how to intercede with death so that
he would call her by her right name.

So they had to come there,
both of them, under the rain,

to perform the rite that would repair
the web of time where it had been broken.

He wrote me: I will have spent my life trying to
understand the function of remembering,

which is not the opposite of forgetting,
but rather its lining.

We do not remember, we rewrite memory
much as history is rewritten.

How can one remember thirst?
He didn't like to dwell on poverty,
but in everything he wanted to show
there were also the 4-Fs of the Japanese model.

A world full of bums, of lumpens,
of outcasts, of Koreans.

Too broke to afford drugs,
they'd get drunk on beer, on fermented milk.

This morning in Namidabashi, twenty minutes
from the glories of the center city,