KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 4: Fall 2015
Haibun: 233 words

Jizo’s Children

by Deborah Guzzi

Gigantic Nio guardians grimace at the gate: carved, gilded, and painted in oxblood red. They frighten demons and protect the Pilgrims trooping through the arches of the Koyasan Temple in the Japanese Alps. Incense clings, oversweet, on the evening air. Yellowing strands of paper cranes move sorrow’s breath on the breeze. The retreat’s entrance engulfs the footwear of the prayerful: organized, colorful, often threadbare. They come in ones and twos, sadness stamped upon each face.

snow drifts
through open doors:
the scratch of wool

Coins clink into altar-boxes in front of sacred Buddhas at the entry. Inside the shrine’s quarters, futons lie on squares of tatami floor mats. A teapot whistles in the mist damp dusk. There are no children here. The courtyard overflows with mounds of crimson mums. Persimmon colored koi swim solemnly in oval ponds.

The bustle of the small alpine city does not intrude. The faithful slip silently past monks draped in single-shouldered robes of sacred orange into the moss-covered cemetery with its cedar groves. As they pass one another, they bow; prayer hands cupped over beating hearts. Each mourner prays to Bodhisattva Jizo who guards their dear ones in limbo. Most visitors carry a stone offering; it is all they can do to help their ghostly children pay penance and cross the Sanzu River to heaven.

parents kneel
placing red bibs on Jizo:
mounds of pebbles rise

Deborah Guzzi
Issue 4, Fall 2015

is a healing facilitator specializing in Japanese Shiatsu and Reiki. She writes for massage and aromatherapy publications. She travels the world seeking writing inspiration. She has walked the Great Wall of China and has visited Nepal (during the civil war), Japan, Egypt (two weeks before “The Arab Spring”), Peru, and France (during December’s terrorist attacks).

Her poetry appears in a range of publications worldwide: here/there:poetry in the UK; Existere: Journal of Arts and Literature in Canada; Tincture Journal in Australia; Cha: An Asian Literary Journal in Hong Kong; Eunoia Review in Singapore; Latch Key Tales in New Zealand; mgv2>publishing in France; Vine Leaves Literary Journal in Greece; and in India, RædLeafPoetry-India.

USA publications include Travel by the Books: A Literary Travel Journal; Ribbons: Tanka Society of America Journal; Soundings Review; KYSO Flash; The Aurorean; Crack the Spine Literary Magazine; Liquid Imagination; Poetry Quarterly; Illumen (Alban Lake Publishing); Sweet Dreams and Night Terrors: An Anthology of Dark Dreamscapes and Seductive Terrors (Silent Fray, July 2014); and others.

Guzzi’s new collection of poems The Hurricane is now available through Prolific Press.

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

Home on the Range/Beppu, Japan, haibun in Cha: An Asian Literary Journal (Issue 27, March 2015)

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