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12 February 2013 @ 02:48 pm
LOVERS & KILLERS reading  
I'll be reading with Chuck Joy at Mac's Backs the day before V-day -- here's a poem from the book.  By the way, this poem is Rhysling eligible:


Tohoku Tsunami

by Mary Turzillo

Taro finds a sea turtle

belly-up, helpless, tormented by thugs:

he rights it, cradles, gives it back to the sea.

Another sea turtle, immense

as from woodcuts of monsters devouring Kyoto,

walks out of the tide, finds Taro

dumbstruck, afraid.

But Fisherman Taro, doused with sea-spittle

grows gills.  

Come, come with me. The huge turtle

named Ryujin, sea kami,

tows him to ocean's root:

a palace refulgen

with kanju, chrysoberyls that make the tide fall.

and manju, alexandrine plates that make the tide rise.

The kanju are scales

the manju also

are scales.

The palace is a dragon.

In its deepest coil, Ryujin presents

Princess Otohime.  My daughter.

the turtle you returned to the sea.

Otohime's beauty sponges away Taro's recall

of fishing and Miyagi, his home.

Taro, Otohime's consort now,

lives in a palace.  It stirs now and then,

scales as chrysoprase, corundum, coils serpentine.

The drago

Ryugoju, seabed, origin, center,

coils jealous around princess and fisher.

Taro yearns to see his mother.

Otohime (salt tears) agrees, gives him a box.  Do not open.

He forgets to ask why.

The drago

ready to sleep years, centuries, aeons,

releases Taro.

Taro walks inland,

finds Miyagi's streets

buzz with cars, light-blaze, women in brief skirts.

He asks

have you heard of Taro, the fisherman?

Urashima Taro?  Yes.

A legend.  Walked into the sea

to rescue a turtle. Never returned

but his footprints on the beach were lined with jewels.

Taro asks of his mother.

That was long ago, they say.

She has been dead three centuries.

He sinks down.

All he knew is the dust of burnt offerings;

he is wayfarer in an arid, metallic land.

Bereft on a city curb,

he remembers the box

It will bring back my world.

He opens:

an echoing dragon sea-heart opens

The dragon's jewel-scales flex. First the kanju,

call the sea back to the dragon

so the tide sinks,

and folk wonder has the sea abandoned us?

The dragon flexes again

and his belly-scale manju rippl

and the water rushes inland.

All is awash, lights put out,

temples cars people crushed

as an anthill engulfed

until finally the vat opens

where the folk grow electricity,

irradiating Miyagi

with billion-jellyfish poison

and, not having sea turtle shells,

folk tumble, sicken, and die.

The sea washes Taro back

to the palace-dragon,

which coils, then yawns.

The princess closes the box.

But no man

can live three hundred years

Taro ages and fails, blood staining salt water.  He dies.

The princess weeps.

The dragon, flood-weary, sleeps.


"Tohoku Tsunami" first appeared in Lovers & Killers, Dark Regions, 2012


Marie Lillian Vibbertreasie on February 13th, 2013 06:06 pm (UTC)
That's lovely, Mary!
Marymaryturzillo on February 13th, 2013 10:07 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I'm having a problem with getting my poetry on the Rhysling pages (long story), and your comment was truly refreshing and encouraging.