The scroll has three characters on it. Three hundred brush strokes. Three thousand meanings.
“Calm in busyness,” she translates and bows to the scroll. For a moment her face is folded in the fabric that drips down to her ankles. A thin wisp of air separates her forehead from the floor.
Shuffling back to the entrance, she exits the tearoom, carefully sliding the rice paper screen door closed in three precise movements.
If you listen hard enough you can hear a muffle of a sound when the screen shuts against its wooden frame.
A bird coos in the garden.
An old man coughs.
In the space that silence opens, her words reverberate.
Calm in busyness.
She slides across the tatami mat on her knees with a tray of pink confections.
Then swiftly she spreads her kimono wings, and they sway under each movement.
Wipes the bowl. Folds the wipe. Dips the ladle. Ladles the water.
Steam rises in sync to the sound of the cast iron lid as it scrapes the pot and seals the heat in.
Whips the tea. Sets down the whip. Nothing is tossed. Nothing is torn.
If you look closely enough you can see what appears to be one movement is really one hundred. Like the way a centipede crawls. Like the way a spine bends backwards.
And each sip of tea is followed by fifty swallows.
And each shuffle across the room is a journey of a thousand years.
* * *
These days there’s a bite to the night air. It’s softened during the day by the scent of fading roses and fallen leaves.
A misty rain descends and sometimes feels like the weight of a thousand swords. But when it clears, the greens are greener and the cricket sounds echo a little louder.
I forgot how exquisite the landscape is after a storm. Life has so many details to offer if one chooses to be aware of them.