Poetry from Christopher Bernard


(Note: Chirashi is a Japanese dish of raw 
fish and seafood served on top of a bowl
of rice. It means “scattered.”)

A bright, cold winter day.
The memories are fresh
as the roses in the hall
though they are far away.
They’re light as leaves in autumn.
Like birds lined on a wire,
hopping wire to wire,
like notes of music, charming
as music long remembered
and forgotten even longer,
she seems now to say.

She seems now to say,
from the far edge of the table,
but her words are silent now
like music long remembered
and forgotten even longer
in the jammed restaurant’s clamor.
Her eyes are glittering
like the gleam of heated sake
in its white and tiny cup,
in the laughter, silent laughter.

There is laughter, silent laughter,
warm and silent laughter,
in the memories in the restaurant
concentrated in a cup,
in a modest porcelain cup
hardly larger than a thimble,
a little thing of matter
in the bright, cold winter day.

Between the miso and the shoyu
and wasabi with its tears,
and the sake as it lowers
in the cup and disappears,
like sashimi called chirashi
they disintegrate, dissolve,
and disperse and fly away
like a flight of birds
until there’s nothing left
but a cooling empty cup,
a demolished luncheon tray
on a table set for ghosts
and memories as they scatter
like sashimi called chirashi,
like music long remembered,
and forgotten even longer,
yet remembered even longer
on this bright, cold winter day.

				For Keiko

Christopher Bernard’s third collection of poetry, The Socialist’s Garden of Verses, won a PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award and was named one of the “Top 100 Indie Books of 2021” by Kirkus Reviews. He is a founder and co-editor of the webzine Caveat Lector.

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