Poetry / June 2017 (Issue 36: Writing Japan)


Shikata ga nai

by Joshua Ip

what happens now is what has always happened
and will continue till it no longer does.
the words that we say to remind us what is, is
are the same ones our fathers said to us.

we will continue till they no longer do
what they were meant to do—till they are done.
the same ones that our fathers said to us
are given, in times of great need, but also small.

what they meant was to do with what was done
to them. life was received, honored, served tea
as a given. in times of great need but also small
they did not forget their manners or their greetings.

to them, life was received. an honor to serve tea,
the craft of going on. things that fell into their hands
they could not forget. their manners or their greetings
were borne, were carried, like valued passengers

on a craft that goes on. that things fall into our hands
is a given – the nature of those things is our mystery
to bear, to carry. like valued passengers
we protect their remaining unknown burden,

its given nature. those things that are mysteries
are happening now, like they have always happened,
to protect the unknown. our burden remains
the words we say to remind us what is, is.
 
 
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