We sons and daughters of Yamato,
Long-lost stalkers of Orihime,
Hunters of Orion and Hikoboshi, have
Returned; reduced to plastic figurines
And precision-geared think machines
Examining boxes of distraction
Fixated on marking our time and terroir;
Sheltering minds half-full of data,
Factotums and trivia, but holding
Neither knowledge nor the wisdom
Of the divine, we bob upon freezing
Waves, more detritus for the hungered
Vortex widening in time before us.
Shall we disintegrate fully, then?
Circle atop these rising oceanic crests
And break further into smaller bytes?
Shall we sink below surfaces
Hiding that which haunts us most?
Perhaps we should.
Circle skimming the horizon,
And bouncing through time; we
Bore the light of the stars cribbed
From ancient shining texts
Outward to the conquest of empire
And the promise of immaculate
Contact, sanctioned and sanctified.
But those maps and legends
Pointed us toward a lost topography
That changed as we approached it.
Mutable time altered us, too;
Warped us and bent us
As we traversed its open sheets.
We no longer remember
What we came for and now
Arrival looms as does the dread
Of returning to where we know
Now we have never been:
The destination of no return,
The expectation of no exit.
And the waves
That spiral around us,
—As we search for Onogoro,
The first island rising—
Call for beginnings
As they hint of endings;
They open doorways,
Passing through time
As stars streak above them
Until they crash, spent,
Upon a distant shore.
We seek the only destination
We have left:
ame no ukihashi
bridge of heaven.
An outcome pre-determined
By our keen observation.
These wavelets, roiling in time,
Bite at us until we are nothing
But hiss and loss, ash and dreams,
And, behold, the voices say:
Arrive and depart
Impart and derive
You have reached
The place of non-arrival,
The not-there, the
At the center of
Your own galaxies
Holding you awhirl
And in thrall to
The loving spiral
Of the dead, the living,
And all those
Lost in between.
—Ryu Ando is an academic librarian. He lives and works in Los Angeles, constantly dreaming of eating soba on the banks of the Arakawa river. His work has appeared or will appear in Strange Horizons, Pidgeonholes, Liquid Imagination, mixer(post genre), and many others.