Sans soleil

When filming this ceremony I knew I was present
at the end of something.

Magical cultures that disappear leave traces
to those who succeed them.

This one will leave none;
the break in history has been too violent.

I touched that break at the summit of the hill,
as I had touched it at the edge of the ditch

where two hundred girls had used grenades to commit suicide in 1945
rather than fall alive into the hands of the Americans.

People have their pictures taken in front of the ditch.
Across from it souvenir lighters are sold shaped like grenades.
On Hayao's machine war resembles letters being burned,
shredded in a frame of fire.

The code name for Pearl Harbor was Tora, Tora, Tora,
the name of the cat the couple in Gokokuji was praying for.

So all of this will have begun with the name of a cat pronounced three times.
Off Okinawa kamikaze dived on the American fleet;
they would become a legend.

They were likelier material for it obviously than the special units
who exposed their prisoners to the bitter frost of Manchuria

and then to hot water so as to see
how fast flesh separates from the bone.

One would have to read their last letters to learn
that the kamikaze weren't all volunteers,

nor were they all swashbuckling samurai.