Monna McDiarmid

i.
a long time ago
in mexico
my teacher-friend heather dowd
spoke of her time in japan
in a quiet voice
as if we were in church.

“it’s not possible”
she said,
“to take
a bad photo
in japan.”

i loved
that she thought that.

ii.
i confess
to a box full of bad shots
of japan.

i took them when we first arrived.

iii.
after two years in bangkok
(an extrovert’s city
where people never stop
talking)
we moved to japan.

our arrival
here
was not a gentle
touching down
but the crash-landing
of foreigners
who don’t yet know their way.

the first english we heard
a message on the airport shuttle
“please do not annoy your neighbours.”
too late.
we were cymbals and horns honking
while japan looked politely away.

time passed
in that gracious way
that time has.

we still can’t tell a taxi driver
how to…

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