The last fare collector of Hiroshima

by Antony Owen

They found her fingers in a jelly of yen,
her skin one with the standard issue fare-bag –
a dove in a sen of silver to go to the mountains,
oh, if only she went.

I have read of a woman
who cooled her burns with figs and persimmon.
She pared away old skin for years; it was the finest paper,
writing its kanji into the papyrus sky. I wish I knew her.

In the ritual of tea-making,
I learnt how to sip from a widow’s eyes
and learn that some stories are like Hiroshima streetcars –
they always arrive on time then the hour takes them.

They found her omen in the evening crow
hopping by the river: it is time to see how atoms rise
when another survivor dies;
their story closes with their eyelids.

I have read of a God-fearing woman
who feared man so much more;
she sliced a cucumber each night for years to cool her skin
and hate had left her years ago with five generations of








Sen: Old Japanese coins. The sen was taken out of currency in 1953.