Once there lived a woman in Japan
Amid tsunami and earthquake land
And in her mind she held the ghosts
Of all the dead the Gods could boast

Among the deities to whom she prayed
With incense sticks and flowers laid
She praised Benzaiten the eloquent
For life’s rich flow and essence spent

One day I happened upon her abode
Where by the hearth a snake reposed
She took the serpent green and brown
And gaping wide did swallow it down

I watched in horror as it slid back out
And asked her what that was all about
She said living amongst this isolation
The snake inside lent some protection

From hunger, disease and loneliness
Bestowed on her from the great goddess
I threw some coins into an earthen bowl
Wished her luck with her troubled soul

When turning to leave my eyes did see
A shapeshifting vision macabre to me
She was all the dead from centuries past
Amassed, outcast, with mouths aghast

Their twisted, bruised and broken limbs
The fruit of Izanami’s capricious whims
I ran from them till I reached the shore
The woman appearing just like before

Upon those washed and golden sands
She offered me her ghost-white hands
“Be brave, be strong, my human child
Your eyes bewitched and long beguiled

I am Benzaiten the benevolent and wise
Who shows her face in diverse disguise
Fear not the fate of your mortal friends
Their lives on which their faith depends

Take this Kintsugi cup and drink instead
The tears from all the centuries’ dead
One hundred thousand years have gone
Since man first walked the birth of dawn”

I bowed and drank bathed in her light
Now saved from life’s traumatic plight
For death it seemed was not my fate
And closed to me were Heaven’s gates

I thanked the woman from old Japan
Amid tsunami and earthquake land
From her great mind I stole the ghosts
Of all the dead the Gods could boast



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