31 May 2015

Thousands of miles, away

A round ceramic plate with sashimi is placed before me, and for the next week, month, until I might forget I'll feel the firm fresh flesh of the sea on my restless tongue, and how it melts. The plate is smooth, like marble, and grey, like smoke, and on it the slices of raw tuna, salmon and sea bream look like colour extracts -- ruby, muted pink and cream -- from a Japanese art print. There is a little square dish with soy sauce on the side, and a puff of shredded daikon, but these remain unstirred, undisturbed.

It started to rain before the plate arrived at the table, soft, calm flow of raindrops dissolving in the garden pond outside. In anticipation, amidst the conversation -- but about what? -- my eye wandered off, got fixated on a random ripple, watched it expand and disappear over the heads of the oxygen-hungry quartet of carps. I imagined, if I could walk out through the glass door in the concrete modern frame I'd find myself thousands of miles away, on a bamboo walkway waving through a green garden towards a century-old, at least a century-old, wooden teahouse. I'd bow under the low entrance door, sit on a tatami floor, the rice paper window screen open to the same garden pond. I'd perhaps rest my eye on a hanging scroll depicting a cherry tree in bloom on the wall, and on an origami crane on a lacquered tray, and I will hear out the rustling rain, and each rustling word.

When the food is served, I lean over the plate, awed. 
I, too, could be a figure in a Japanese print.