Sacred  
In Kyoto’s Kiyomizudera, water is drawn from 1000 meters beneath the ground. The water is believed to be sacred, capable of bestowing three virtues on the drinker.
- Michelle Danner

Sacred  

In Kyoto’s Kiyomizudera, water is drawn from 1000 meters beneath the ground. The water is believed to be sacred, capable of bestowing three virtues on the drinker.

- Michelle Danner

Scales of the Dragon. The shape of the Japanese Koto, a thirteen-stringed string instrument, is modeled after the Asian dragon.
- Michelle Danner

Scales of the DragonThe shape of the Japanese Koto, a thirteen-stringed string instrument, is modeled after the Asian dragon.

- Michelle Danner

Watching
Taken from Asuwa Mountain in Fukui City, Fukui Prefecture Japan.
- Michelle Danner

Watching

Taken from Asuwa Mountain in Fukui City, Fukui Prefecture Japan.

- Michelle Danner

Towards the river


School girls cower under umbrellas—
rainbows streaking down dry, gray streets.
Housewives and salary men scurry into
taxis and department stores, their drivers and
clerks smiling, rubbing hands behind their
eyes.  A drop of rain, a cloud’s lost spear,
sparks down the front of the full bus
groaning over the bridge

towards the river.

Leaves tumble into my hair, under my
bike tires squealing over the pavement
throbbing with roots.  The wind curls
around the trees, around my legs.  They
creak, pulse, pray for five more minutes
of light.  White creeps across roofs, black
oozes along mountains, covering a
shivering sky, inching

towards the river.  

Cloud armies curl past the gaps in sky and
branches. White hands raise lavender swords
against the black jaws of cloud dogs.   The
sakura tree stretches, dropping leaves
into the water.  They float over the moon,
who sits in her patch of sky, giggling,
the last of purple day hiding all but a white
eye.  It sparkles at the marching

towards the river. 

- Michelle Danner

The Shogun’s Garden
- Michelle Danner

The Shogun’s Garden

- Michelle Danner

Ghosts



Chizu whimpers about monsters and ghosts
in the August-warmed parking garage.  Under
the fireworks’ rumbling, our wood sandals, red
from lonely EXIT signs, scuttle over white
arrows, always pointing up the black ramps
spiraling into the empty and quiet dark.
   
Fading into the walls, Natsumi in her dark
blue yukata promises “There’re no ghosts
in here.”  She limps through the leg cramps,
refusing to slow—to see, over there, under
the dead floodlight above corpse-white
elevator doors, the man with his skull bared.

Cracks in the metal scar the withered
face with hallowed eyes.  Hands inside dark
sleeves, standing where the temple’s white
steps were before, he watches our robes ghost
up to the next floor—where, to the thunder
of fireworks, the woman crouches on the ramp

with her misty rice stalks.  Barefoot, she tamps
the concrete above where water once blurred  
farmers’ faces.  Humming tunelessly under
the weak floodlight, she shuffles in the dark
oblivious to Chizu’s pink cotton sleeve ghosting 
through her arm as we wind up the white

line—where a wind rustles the whitened
sleeves of an elderly kimono against the ramp,
muffling her unfurling fan and her low ghost
song about love wandering in snow, lured 
by false promises.  Wet cement in her dark
hair and silk, she breathes to the ceiling underneath

Natsumi’s car.  The metal shimmers gray under
the cloudy moon and doesn’t reflect his white
school pin.  Wind-tousled, he looks into the dark
street from atop the wall sloping down like a ramp.
Against the moon a firework explodes into a red
flower.  We, he, she, she, he watch the ghost

sparks wither under the moon.  On the ramping
wall he watches white concrete.  Chizu pulls my red
sleeve.  We slip into the dark—and ghost.

- Michelle Danner