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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:

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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.


(end)


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

http://www.macsbacks.com/event/chuck-joy-and-mary-turzillo

 
 
 
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
Thanks! I'm having a problem with getting my poetry on the Rhysling pages (long story), and your comment was truly refreshing and encouraging.