Survivors And Inheritors - Poem by Brian Taylor
Caves, like palaces,
(and shoes) ,
outlive their tenants.
Tigers came and filled the caves
with snarling and roaring.
After the atomic bomb fell on Hiroshima,
more than a hundred Japanese soldiers retreated here.
Most fell on their swords in accordance with custom,
grasping the hilts with both hands,
pulling and falling into an exploding sphere of pain.
The rest cut open their stomachs
and died more slowly, but just as surely.
Their flesh was eaten by tigers and dogs,
their bones mingled with those of prehistoric men
and the residue of earlier tiger feasts.
Thirty five years later, Buddhist monks came,
Japanese, Thai and Chinese,
and chanted mantras
for the salvation and reorientation
of the Japanese spirits,
who returned to Japan.
The earthly elements they left behind
were collected by the Japanese Embassy
(who also took the swords) .
The caves were cleaned.
The tigers stopped coming.
Like deserted Indian Temples,
the caves were left to monkeys,
who jabbered and squabbled
with the sounds of enraged chickens.
Dun, as a boy, came here with his friends,
when they were bored with fishing,
to fight the monkeys for their territory.
Now the worn limestone caverns
are empty, silent, echoing,
teeming with images in parallel worlds,
waiting for the next arrivals.
Tonight one old monkey
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