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California born by a Cuban mother, married to a Japanese man, and have lived in Japan since 2004, minus one year living in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. I have friends and family in many places in the world. I dreamed of traveling to many distant lands, creating music and dancing to it, meeting interesting people, and discovering treasures in the most unlikely of places.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Grasshopper (バッタ)

Last year, on a hot balcony on the second floor, we would go out and see, through summer until the chilly late autumn winds blew death into the surrounding leaves and he went away, a little green grasshopper grow fat and big and very lazy on the leaves of my Cuban Parsley. We would sometimes scare him a little in innocent fun, shifting the leaves to look at him, wondering if he would move. At first we thought he would leave the next day. Then we thought he would certainly move on the next week. But though the parsley plant didn’t suffer much under his consistent munching, he stayed for many months within that 15 inch diameter sea of leaves. For a while, we thought he must be drunk, drugged by the intoxicating scent of the leaves, not to leave. We finally determined that he must have considered it his home. What is time like for an insect that only lives a few months? For a cat, one year is our seven. For a person living in one place their whole life, that place is everything. For an insect, a few months could be an eternity, a life. This year, foraging for lunch greens, I found on campus two patches of wild purslane. On the one patch that had only one plant, isolated among the gravel, mid-building, I noticed a grasshopper. I would pick for my lunch, and he would hop off onto the rocks. When I came back the next day, he hopped off again. He would look at me, shifting his weight from side to side, waiting for me to be gone. This happened for a few weeks. I started to feel bad that I was taking his home away little by little, so I stopped eating purslane salads with my lunch. Then, last week, the area was weeded, and the purslane abode was gone. I stopped and wondered at the area where it had been. Had he grieved for his lost home? Had his cries risen into the wind? Or had he just jumped off, and searched for a new place to live? Remembering him and the other one last year, I find it difficult to imagine that they felt nothing at the loss of their home, considering how tenacious they both were, and their absolute refusal to leave, always returning home, even in the repeated presence of danger. How does an insect perceive life? Is it possible to compare the people of Sakurajima or Kansas or Pakistan’s Swat Valley to these small, green, gentle creatures, just trying to live? HAIKU TO THE GRASSHOPPERS Grasshopper weeps to / the autumn wind at seeing / his home in fate’s hand.

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