Matsushima, written by Tim Gardiner at



written by: Tim Gardiner



A pregnant moon rises above the bay, illuminating limestone islands. My boat weaves in and out of the rock outcrops. You must be here somewhere. You must be. A white light from a tiny cave attracts my attention.

faint glow
waves distort
your reflection

You’re still wearing the blood-stained kimono, hair lank and bedraggled. Limp hands hang from sleeves embroidered with butterflies. With a slow movement of your left arm, you point across the bay to the largest island. Following this direction, I moor my boat by the cliffs. In the clearing at the top of the steps, a full moon party materialises.

pine needles
a kneeling soldier
draws his tantō

The young samurai sacrifices his lover on the shogun’s instruction. Her death is mercifully quick, the blade thrust deep. Head bowed, the warrior is quickly beheaded before the scene vanishes. In the half light, I notice a stone in the glade. Clawing at the dirt around it, my hand caresses something cold.

dug deep
into the limestone
two skeletons

Rising from the soil, your face is obscured by lank, black hair. My search has ended; tonight will be our last.

luminous lovers
lost in the blackness
of the bay

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