Tanabata, or the star-crossed lovers

The fabric she weaves is magical,
a passion play with actors of thread,
and as he watches from the far side
he begs heaven’s river for a chance, a kiss,
just one night of still water he can forge,
silently slipping through the current
with a heartbeat as swift as the stones
tumbling along the riverbed below;
just one touch, his heart’s thickest desire,
from the weaver’s daughter fair on the far shore.
Say one thing for the mighty river,
say it flows with waters of compassion,
for on its skin the mountains glowed,
and thus did young love brave the breadth,
his herd left alone without a herder,
their thunderous footprints crushing
every flower and sprout on that side of the river.
But the fury of a father is a higher price to pay,
fire flamed high by the tender touch
now written in his daughter’s every thread,
and blind in his fury he grappled the stars
to cast them into the river blood, now an ocean,
a torturous divide as deep as darkness
and as wide as the stars resting above,
the weaver’s daughter on one side,
her forlorn the other, ankle-deep in sorrow,
his tears glistening with the galaxy between them.
The dutiful daughter did her best
to hide her tears shed nightly on the shore,
but as powerful as love, they rose
in the blues of every scarf she wove,
the reds aflame in every tapestry she made,
stitches so tight the weight of the world
could rest inside without breaking.
Instead it was her father’s stone that broke,
his hard heart shattering like glass
as his clenched hands felt that fabric
once unsullied by pain, untouched by loss,
and so on the seventh day of the seventh month
he beckoned forth the master magpie
to contract a bridge to be made across the stars,
a heavenly pass for the young lovers
so that they may meet and rekindle
what his anger had doused and destroyed.
Say one thing for a father, say he is quick to forget,
and in his forgiveness did the lovers learn
to calm the wildness of an intended herd,
to subdue passion within every woven thread,
and on every seventh of every seventh,
to value love’s gift above every star above and below.


About the poem: Today’s poem focuses on the story behind Tanabata, the Japanese holiday when it is said that Orihime, the daughter of heaven, gets to meet Hikoboshi, a cow-herder of the stars–two lovers separated by the vast Milky Way in the night sky.


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