Yesterday we went to the zoo in Ueno.
You wanted to see the famous gorilla,
though captivity depressed me,
you’d been coming to see him
for a decade or so
and were trying to change your life.
It was a full moon, early autumn, maple
leaves streaming from the trees,
lotus leaves blooming like giant platters
in the pond, rising from the muck,
swaying in the breeze.
You took me to see the one you loved.
You called him buruburu,
onomatopoeia for the way
he ate his banana slowly
without the peel, cupped the orange in his palm
rolled the cabbage on the ground
shook his body buruburu
& looked out at all the people
with impeccable indifference
& ate the next banana
slowly, as if this were
show on earth.
I could have looked at him forever.
And then you said
even Musashi Miyamoto*
never combed his hair
never took a bath
never owned a home
never fathered children
killed his first man at thirteen
& his last at twenty-nine—
even such a great master
didn’t find a job
until he was sixty.
*The famous samurai ronin known for his fighting techniques, as recorded in his masterpiece, The Book of Five Rings (1643).