Tuesday, December 28, 2004

by the sea

anil's ghost

By the Sea

Stretching into the distance
the sea
swallows a hundred rivers
for thousands of miles
the spray joins the waves
to the sky

-Muso Soseki (translation: W.S. Merwin)

I'm reading the poems of Muso Soseki today, a Japanese poet born in Ise in 1275, ten years after Dante. Ise is on the coast far to the west of what was then Edo and the sea has a real presence. We tend to sentimentalize the ocean now, travel is easier and at times it seems that we have harnessed the massive power of the tides, currents and waves. A sense of ease disappeared on December 26th as a massive shift of tectonic plates off of Java sent a wall of water that swallowed coastlines for thousands of miles, engulfing rich and poor: Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, and Christians.

kenro izu, java
- kenro izu, borobudur, java

Kenro Izu's palladium photograph of Java is timeless. The landscape stripped of living human presence. Java as a museum - ancient, yet yielding to the forces of wind, rain, and time. The jungle is slowly pulling these structures back into the ground, crumbling the stone into earth again. Somehow we can sense this process while viewing Izu's photo. And we can feel our own mortality. Life is short. So many mourn today in Java, Sri Lanka, India, Phuket and across the Indian Ocean. As we remember the lost and help the injured it becomes very clear that we are in this together. We stand together with the great figures of Borobudur as silent sentinels marking our own brief time.

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