Peace Cranes

This image from Gail Rieke helps usher in the new year with a hopeful feeling.

It brought to mind a visit to Hiroshima four years ago:

today it’s just a station
on the bullet train

Or, more than that, it’s a lovely city with great food and shopping. I don’t know why I expected it to be frozen in the past, a smoking ruin. That’s as foolish as expecting to be met by Puritans in black hats at Boston’s Logan Airport. Still, it is a pilgrimage, different than a Tokyo neighborhood of food stalls or the earthly delights of Hakata Station in Fukuoka. We get an AirBnB near the Peace Park.
Everything is an adventure. This is Japan, after all, and I’m traveling with my daughter and son-in-law. I adore them, but they are millennials, and different than me. Three futons are laid out, and we all sleep in one room. I could never have done that with my own mother.

Peace Park
a twig broom sweeps
the wind

One of the more upsetting pieces for me is a memorial to the girls’ school where the students died. Because Japan was still under occupied forces when it was built, the U.S. said that the sculptor could not reference the atom bomb by name in this plea for peace. So “atom bomb” is replaced with “E=mc squared.”

no sleeping
on park benches, pigeons,
the funeral mound

tailless black cat
on its own
mysterious errand

tourists weeping
and snapping
cell phone photos

A giant tortoise, memorializing Koreans, is surrounded by Japanese sparrows.

We’re from New Mexico. An hour from Los Alamos where the A-bomb was birthed, monstrous, into this world. And somehow I feel more implicated by this more than by being an American. Even though these events happened before I was born. But we talk about Robert Oppenheimer and Los Alamos as we enter the museum. And there are shocked to find not one mention of either name. No New Mexico. No father of the bomb. A great deal of accurate and interesting history, and from the Japanese perspective. Melted roof tiles. Photographs of disastrous ruin. But not our own guilt terrain.
I feel I need to apologize to someone but nothing here demands apology. Instead, the greatest focus is on peace.
At the neighborhood shrine after I bow and drop my coins in the box I’m surprised to have a Shinto priest appear and shake a branch tied with white cloth over my head. But I feel better. I can’t just leave the Peace Park and go looking for lunch without a transition.

the word for “gods”
and “paper”
sounds just the same

I buy
origami sheets to fold
cranes for a friend.

Stoner Patriot Peace Garden of All Faiths









Amarillo, Texas: Stoner Patriot Peace Garden of All Faiths by Richard Daniel Baker
This is completely amazing. One man’s folly—or more. The site just sits out on the plains off of I-40. It reminds me of so may things—Burma Shave signs on Route 66, Cadillac Ranch outside Amarillo, giant crosses on the plains.
It’s a essentially a circle, with a cross bisecting a peace sign—sacred architecture. It’s like outsider land art, sharing with Nancy Holt an obsession with time and dates. Like Charles Ross’s Star Axis, it is a walk through time.
It wouldn’t surprise me to discover artist Baker is a Vietnam Vet, or friend of some.
The dates are of historical events (unnamed but identifiable)—important to the artist. These include Woodstock, John Lennon’s death, and the Moon Walk.It extols the virtues of the military, of marijuana, of the ’60’s counterculture, of religion, peace, and welding.

Seen from the air, the whole site is a peace sign.peace-farm