Sunday, March 12, 2017

I Passed By The Rikyu Tea House Today

I passed by the Rikyu tea house today

I was shocked by its serenity

As if nothing ever happened

As if we are a different people

Twenty two years ago

we were a nation ready to topple

after climbing so far

We were divided then

by warring domains

And Oda, the one man who could unite us

had just been killed

I thought my world would explode

But now the birds sing happily

And families stroll by carelessly

How can they know?

How can they not know?

Our country almost slipped off the map

Had it been left to me, it would have

But Oda's strongest general, my lord Toyotomi, stepped in

He was the greatest negotiator in the land

Every soul bare before his divine gaze

At the time of Oda's death, Toyotomi was mired in the greatest siege of his life

The Mori clan was rich and controlled western Japan

It would take years to defeat them

I was in charge of maintaining the perimeter around their forward castle

Only a few of us knew of Oda's death

I remember thinking, "Once the Mori hear of this, their resolve will double!"

At that point, I feared my life to be an illusion

I shared Oda's vision of a unified land, to be serving something greater than ourselves


Not even Toyotomi can get us out of this one

It was as if the entire nation was on fire that night

when a conference was called between the Mori and Toyotomi

at the Rikyu tea house

Rikyu was the highest tea master in the land

Only his tea house was trusted by both sides

Grim guards stood by as torches were lit in anticipation

I remember praying to the gods for a miracle as I stared into the flames

No man lived in surety back in those days

And yet in danger I found life like nowhere else

Oda made his own rules

and we in his wake tasted that freedom that sweetens life so

I can tell by a man's gait if he's ever stepped into that world

So very few have

I remember praying for the wars to end so we could build on the peace

I dreamed of a new era of freedom, that we could never go back from this

But with Oda dead and my lord Toyotomi fighting for our lives in the tea house

I was a bitter man as stars in the sky circled around this place so small

At dawn, they emerged

Toyotomi had won the day!

Hostilities would cease

I was skeptical in disbelief, suspecting yet another trick of those treacherous times

Only later I found out the Mori had no desire to rule Japan

Toyotomi saw this and used it to his advantage

His greatest victories were in battles off the field

He was never defeated in wars of words

I saw firsthand that night the need to wage battles of the mind

Free to leave the siege, Toyotomi took over where Oda left off

He defeated the other generals who wanted control of the clan

They never stood a chance against his mind

Then finally peace came to the land over the next ten years

And after Toyotomi, a Shogun was named to cement the country's unity

And in this peace, I am lost

Only within war can I live

My life is nothing now but ceremonies and the honors given to an old warrior

I gnash my teeth nightly in frustrated agony

I live to fight!

I drown in this directionless malaise

I stand abandoned in these times of strolling families

Is this who we are now?

I depended on war to give me purpose

But people have moved on and our Japan will wage war no more

What am I to do with myself day after day, hour after hour, minute after minute?

I'm imprisoned by a boredom I cannot slay

I'm unable to join those who laugh, feeling easy in these times

Once I was a part of something

Now I'm apart from the world

What can be said of a soul

that yearns for peace during war

and for war during peace?

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