The Arena of Aesthetic Elaboration


i never write to be read, i’ve always said.
it was never a considered decision
to hide my notebooks and scribbles from you
unless you check my bag for money or cigarettes
and just happen to find
whatever collection of scrap i write on
and call a notebook
which you read cover to cover
looking for the knife
the bad blood
the wound that gives you reason
to make more.
no, i never write to be read.
i’m not going to admit that.

for ten days you went missing in Japan
with my bag and travel papers and notebooks
but not the money and plastic concealed from you.

just a few miles up the coast from Nagasaki on the
Nishisonogi Peninsula
chafed by pacific tide and wind
the house we rented had unobstructed views of an ocean
the like i had never experienced before.
uninterrupted endless water that curved over the earth
and never settled for a moment.
ten days you went missing.
by day three i didn’t miss you anymore.
i stopped wanting to write
about you
about anything

and i met 3 young buddhist apprentice monks
wandering the road to see where it took them.
i let them stay and sleep
on the living room floor
and they made the best tea,
brewed from green tea powder they carried in little
pouches tied to simple string belts.
they caught fish to barbeque in the evening
and insisted we talk in English for practice
but allowed me to try my terrible Japanese
which made them laugh.
they were so incredibly happy all the time.
every single moment.

they left after a few days wishing me well
and gave me hugs and blessings as they
walked away, waving like the ocean, never still,
always breathing and moving.
singing a road song as they went.

i once read a psychology paper that described
the abstracted models of self-identity we create
to keep some kind of order in ourselves.
there are three distinct characters we model.

who we think we are
who we think we’d like to be
and who we actually are.

when you came back we spent the remaining few days
drinking and smoking against the backdrop of
astounding sunsets and
breaking waves upon the empty beach
and then we flew home when it was time to go.

i don’t write to be read.
not by you.

Image credit:Jenn Zed

Ms. Zed is an artist and writer who lives in Bath, England, with the ghost of her cat. She studied art, art history, and design at Bath and Cambridge universities.