Honu = かめ but my protector is raven now.

As I walk the streets in an unexpected snow, I think of the concept of home.

My eyes arch up into the precipitation as I recall the winters I’ve spent in different places. In each place, I was called by a different name. And by each name, I found a new place. But in each place, still the same me. A constant pulse of the same heart with the same uneven beat. The same feet rooted in the same things. The earth itself is my grounding wire, and I am nothing but a magnet pulled forward in concentric circles.

At a corner, I hear the caw of a raven. It is deeper and darker than the small crows I used to know. It echoes, bounding off the sides of buildings. I look up to place it and see watchful eyes from a balcony, from a tree branch, from a ledge in my dream. Eyes so black they are blue, shimmering. In them glints my reflection back at me. I am momentarily distracted from the ashes of the past. And instead, see the depth of possibility.

When night comes I find myself bound, again, for the streets. But this time, I do not go alone. We travel through a slight mist in a pack of three. It is a number comfortable and familiar to me. I find myself in a place between. Both here and there.

I test my mettle, my tinsel, my grade by dipping and ducking from light icy snow into cafes. When I can order things without looks of confusion on the world’s face — I’ve accomplished something. Upstairs in a room moonlit by a blinking blue sign, our eyes met unexpectedly. Black to blue. I bow my head; nothing but observer here. You bear the blood of this land, breath of this sky. And you — for unknown reasons —  smiled at me. I only ever expect to be ignored, passed over.

How can I thank you for the momentary warmth?
I can only bow again and leave through the door.

The bracing walk home brings thoughts of moments from the home I left behind. There, it is winter in the same kind. And in either place, I would be bundled for protection. This wrapping up and shivering is familiar and safe. I’ve gathered straw around my ground and packed my roots in. The blood in my veins sinks low into my belly and my hands go numb.

Wind whips across the city, belting through alleyways like channels of a river. I am caught in a flurry, a hailstorm, a downpour. I am drenched to the bone. Out of necessity, I duck my head, tuck my chin into my collar, pull extremities to my middle. I walk these streets in a necessary, isolated hibernation.

For the first flush, the green bud, the taste of life — I am waiting.


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