Memories of First Arrival

I wrote this poem for a friend’s theater project. It was supposed to be about a time you felt alone or couldn’t communicate.  The first thing that came to mind was how I felt when I first arrived in Japan when I was going on the JET Program.  I think this time stood out in my mind because it was an anomaly.  In many ways it was the only moment in Japan where I had such a strong feeling of isolation and “what am I doing here”.   I think it’s because my first night in my new place where I was completely alone was such a contrast to the first few days from departure from the USA.  I didn’t feel comfortable in my new place because it was so new and the colors and decor were not me and I hadn’t made the place my own.  There was a gritty quality to the outside of the apartment, with large, strange spiders and dust.  When I opened the fridge, which was off, there were relics left – spoiled mayonnaise alone on a shelf.

When you arrive in Tokyo for orientation, there are many other people and you’re all in the same place.  You’re all excited and you buoy each other with that excitement.  When you finally stop when you arrive at your new home it is so quiet and alone that you don’t know how to react (and Jetlag really didn’t help).  That is the moment I tried to capture (maybe you could call this moment “JET-lag”?).

Memories of First Arrival

Neon lights
Tokyo for the second time
hours later;
transition through mountain passes
to rural time and space
ceremonies and rituals
new connections, mixed signals, and nerves.
language barriers
and awkward bowing.
Flights of dusty steps
with large spiders in larger webs.
I arrive in a narrow room.
The door shuts.
Alone at last.
Here I am.

(c) 2011 Bahia Portfolio


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