Adam returns to Japan, 1784. Spoilers for Heroes comic #66, "The Ten Wives of Takezo Kensei".

Time is blood. Blood circulates through my veins.
- Miguel Hernandez, 'July 18, 1936 - July 18, 1938'

The Moving Line

The place of his dying lies to the south-west, sixty miles as the bird flies across rice paddies, then gullies camouflaged by emerald katsura, snow-melt sloping in rapids down the mountains. Old men tell stories of the dragon, point to new groves clinging fast where bodies once covered hell-singed ground. He returns, still recognising the spot.

On the edge of the pallet, Yumi sits looking back at him, serene and perfect as imperial porcelain. An iconograph's stillness. Her eyes beseech enigmas not clear to his reading. Silence meet with his silence. Swept to one side, her hair falls over the narrow crest of her perfumed shoulder. And his knuckles drag an arabesque from her long, slender throat down to her sex.

Once he left his love in this land. This great love's memory he carried over the Pyrenees, it sailed with him to brand new shores and cried for him in the dark of the night. Where did that man go? Back, here he comes, to find her.

Hands are close-fisted, and narrow, sullen stares follow him around corners. The wine does not have the sun and the moon in it.

In all the years, so little has changed, and so much.

That past can never be recovered, its truth revived like a withered stalk. Truth is broken and mended from moment to moment. Do not try to stand still.

Old, blind, thin as his rod of bamboo, the master unfolds like the cricket extending its wings, and the grace of his movement distracts from the blunt pain of his attack.

Adam clutches his bruises, already gone, and remembers to wince. Since he cannot die, a draw at least is assured. Instead he mines himself for the will to learn. To fight, for the fight itself. Mimic the fluid efficiency of the old man. Like water, seeking the lowest spot, the cracks and weaknesses, even as it casts the image of calm. It is not a matter of winning. There are precious few rewards that could entice him.

Occasionally, Yumi lifts her head from her sewing and watches. And never asks to join them.

He sleeps with the river fish, half-naked, cold-blooded, until night comes. Shakes dirt and ice off the travelling clothes as he exhumes them. A single purse of coins. A small knife that will go unmissed.

His widow will accept his fate. Will she weep for him? No matter.

Split the yarrow stalks. Watch how they fall. The moving line.

Running, without beginning, without end.

29 February 2008