Helen of Troy in Hiroshima

Yesterday, a man walking his monkey on a leash kissed my cheek
offered sweet potato ice cream. A flavor I’ve never tried. This note—
Please burn your bread at the right toaster.

Temple sign teaches what to say before I cross the bridge:
careful of the footing
because the responsibility cannot be assumed
about the accident in case and so on.

I tell you, Menelaus
it’s possible to survive
even if your tongue turns black
your fingers freeze
like tea-brown curled up worms
your blood, still red, turns poison.

It’s dust and ashes, falling hair and ashes,
flower petals, cherry blossoms, autumn leaves and ashes,
school children will fold you origami cranes

and still
ashes.

At start of Fujisan trail I read:
During the season this
trail is not safety.
So we are not responsible
for your life and what you
do.

Yesterday,
regret drowns in tsuyu. So easy to see tears under clear plastic umbrella.
I am beautiful in rain.

Today,
one question—

are these two human hands enough
to hold
all the not responsible burns
and burns and burns.

Catherine Keefe HeadshotCatherine Keefe is a California poet, essayist and former journalist. She’s the founding editor of dirtcakes journal, dedicated to themes suggested by the UN Millennium Goals to end extreme poverty. Her poetry and creative nonfiction have recently appeared in Superstition Review, ArtPrize Anthology, and Minerva Rising. She teaches writing at Chapman University.