Cilantro-colored linoleum peeled and curled up
Wilted lettuce leaf floors. Yet the place drew her.
Dilapidated. Narrow windows. A roughly textured view.
Of courtyards. Crumbly white brick walls. Flat roof.

Bent rocking chair trees housing common sparrows
In a shaded corner, an old red lawnmower. Rusted out.
Nail-bitten window ledges. Streaked, tired ceilings.

The caretaker showed her around. Nodded. Smiled.
Heard her questions regarding ambient noises in the lane
As she drifted, sorting boxes in her head. Pictured belonging.
He smiled. ‘Iyashi’, he said. As she kept sorting things.

Mr. Daichi, “An eighth son,” he said, making small talk
Hiroaki. Widespread brightness!” He added, looking around
“Oh, she said, unsure if he was talking about the rooms
Or did he have some kind of insight into her future?

She decided it must be both. iyashi, she discovered later
Meaning ‘retreat’. Hers. Not running away. Freedom.
No income . Not a clue how she’d manage.
But in an unexpected rush of hope, she’d taken the place.
Eight years ago. Rooms painted bright. Trees filtering sun.
She’d added rice paper blinds. Shoji lamps.

Somehow she had taken root. In time. Grown.

Strong. Not easily broken.

Like a bamboo plant, taking root.

© 2012 S. Michaels
Along Silk Roads

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