FESTIVAL OF TOMBS

Posted: April 6, 2019 in Poetry
Tags: , , , , , ,

56317610_10156444774348403_2668393744268525568_n.jpg

FESTIVAL OF TOMBS
By David Allen

I love festivals and have attended many
from the most famous, Woodstock
a weekend of music, love, and highs,
to booths of pioneer crafts,
delicious Midwest treats and trappers tents
at Fort Wayne’s Johnny Appleseed celebration.
But the one event that impressed me the most
was the annual “Shimi” celebration of life
at Okinawa family tombs.

It’s a Spring cleaning of the soul.
In April families can be seen hard at work
neatening the areas around large tombs,
many shaped like a turtle’s back,
preparing for a weekend ceremony
to honor the dead.

It’s not the quiet, reverential scene you might expect.
Instead, they are picnics, blankets piled high with traditional
Okinawan food, cold drinks, and awamori, the island’s rice wine.
Children laugh and play as relatives catch up on the year
After a ceremony that includes prayers and offerings
of food, drinks, and scraps of burned money
left for the deceased to use during the coming year,
the lilt of a sanshin, the island’s three-stringed banjo, fills the air
along with folk songs sung in the local dialect.

Many tombs, which contain the dried bones of the dead, are centuries old.
The turtleback shape dates back to the island’s glory days and trade with China,
where they represented the turtle’s long lives.
Others believe the shape is a woman’s womb,
from which everyone is born and eventually returns.
Decades ago the tombs provided shelter from the storm of war.

The Shimi gatherings are times of joy, families honoring folks gone by
Who they believe watch out for them and prepare the way for the next life.
It became my favorite fest, except, perhaps, the colorful parade of prostitutes,
I mean, gifted geisha gals –In Naha’s ancient “comfort zone”
For sailors far from home.

Visit my Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.com/David-Allen/e/B00DT6TM7Y?ref_=pe_1724030_132998060

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s