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White Cat

Do not drink the Daphne Water I tell you

You ignore my warning

Be careful Ogier!

The strong bearded man looked up at me

You will find no tyranny hiding on this beach

He replied taking a second sip

I tell you this story as it happened there in the shadow of Reculver Towers

Maki and Basho were sitting in a Suchi Bar in the centre of Tokyo

I will accompany you on your journey and be your companion

I will keep my journal as you will keep yours

You will write Haiku

I cannot write Haiku

I am not worthy to write Haiku

I do not see things as you do

I will teach you to see as I do before I die

Maki and Basho left the Suchi Bar and began their journey to Nikko

Maki was aware that Ogier was following her

She saw him on street corners

And on the railway platform

When they arrived in Nikko Maki was astounded by its beauty but the poet stayed silent

She looked up at the mountains

Can we go to the National Park?

Of course but I feel danger lurks in the beauty

Later that day both Maki and Basho found themselves near the Kegon Falls

They were on their way to Lake Chuzenji where Maki hoped to swim

As they neared the waterfall Ogier jumped out from behind a tree

Has she ever displayed herself to you poet?

The old man shook his head

Is that why she is taking you to the lake so she can swim and show you her cunt?

I suggested the journey young man

Have you seen her scars yet?

I suppose you have not seen her scars

Fuck Off Ogier leave him alone!

She self-harms you know and has scars on both her arms and thighs

Why do you think she dresses so modestly like a tight virgin?

She is no virgin

She fucks whosoever she wants

She used my cut-throat razor you know and would have lacerated her cunt if I had not stopped her

Ogier do not hurt him as he is unwell

He tells me that he has doubts that he will survive the journey

Have you seen her ridiculously coloured cunt?

What colour is your cunt now Maki?

Blue, green, yellow do you let your friends lick your cunt as you used to?

Was it Sangallo’s favourite colour or was it Solange?

I have told you to fuck off once Ogier and I will not tell you again

You do it to punish yourself you know

Do you remember when I said that red was my favourite colour and you dyed your pubic hairs red and sent me a sample in an envelope half way around the world

You can imagine my embarrassment when I opened the envelope in front of my friends and my girlfriend’s coloured pubic hair fell to the floor

You have no friends Ogier and you would not give a fuck if you did

You punish yourself by having a ridiculous cunt

When people fuck you they fuck a clown

Has she tried to fuck you old man has she crawled into your bed at night and tried to harden your dying cock?

One more fuck before oblivion

Maki picked up a stone and threw it with venom at Ogier’s chest

Her aim was poor and it hit the strong man on the lip and caused blood to drip from his jaw

He looked stunned for a moment

One day I will kill you Ogier I swear I will

That is if you do not kill yourself first whore

Ogier spat blood at Maki and walked away vanishing into the trees without a murmur

I am sorry for that Ogier haunts me

He is a troubled young man

Let us go to the lake he will not trouble us further today

Your lip is cut

It is not my blood

The lake will sooth you

As they sat on the shores Lake Chuzenji Maki turned to the poet who was resting with his eyes closed against the trunk of a tree

Ogier was right I did self-harm that is why I dress modestly but it is over now

The old man smiled

I know of your secrets many Japanese women self-harm which is dreadful and I hope this is why you will find our time together rewarding

My friends pulled me through it without them I feel that I would have folded

Tell me of Reculver which sounds an interesting place

Reculver is a small small place not far from Canterbury in the county of Kent in Southern England

Have you ever visited England?

I have travelled well in Japan but have never left the shores of this country

I was born in Birchington which is not so many miles away and had a happy childhood but was always haunted by the towers which I could see from my home town

I started to write stories about the ruined church and about all manner of ghosts I thought I could see

And that was where I met Ogier

Tell me about your true friends

I had no true friends only the ghosts of Reculver many years distant

Was Ogier ever your friend?

Never he was a brute of a seaman who I met at Reculver

In one of your stories?

In one of my stories

So you invented him to punish yourself?

I invented him and he abuses me when I am angry

Why were you angry here in such a beautiful place?

I was angry at God for showing me such beauty

I was angry at my self-mutilation

I was even angry at you as I know that you will die soon and that you would not reveal all your thoughts to me

I was angry once

I cannot imagine you angry

I was the youngest son of a samurai in the service of a lord in a castle

His name was of no consequence but I remember it being near Kyoto

Before my tenth birthday I became the study-companion of the nobleman’s son who was a delicate boy two years older than me

We both loved poetry and studied Kigin and Teitoku amongst other great poets

We were devoted to each other

But there was a jealousy on my part for my friend had married at a young age to the most beautiful girl that I had ever seen

I kept my jealousy in check until one day by complete accident I saw her bathing in a lake like this

She was even more beautiful than the exquisite waters and the cherry trees that ran in rows on the nearby shore

I had a feeling that she had seen me that day but she said nothing either to me or my friend

Then tragedy struck my friend whose health had always been delicate suddenly died at a very young age

I was given the task of travelling to Mount Koya with a lock of my dead friend’s hair and there enshrine it

That  was my first pilgrimage as this is my last

I did not return as throughout my journey when I should have been grieving for my friend I was thinking of his widow’s beauty that I had witnessed in full on fateful day

Instead I went to Kyoto where I asked Kingin to take me in and aid me with my studies which he generously did

But I was angry as I wanted to hold my friend’s widow in my arms and caress her tiny breasts

When I walked in the cherry orchards I did not see no beauty only loss

When I swam in the lake I did not feel peace only tempest

Until one day when another widow who was walking by the lakeshore told me that although her husband was dead she saw him every night

And because she was not alone she remained  tremendously happy

I asked her to be my companion but she declined although we became lovers for some months

It ended  sooner that I wuld have liked as the widow could not let go of her dead husband and I returned to Edo a little wiser

Edo?

Tokyo

Later that year I studied Zen with the priest Butcho

Which revealed a lot to me

I understand your anger

I wish I did as Ogier visits me often

Last year when in Swalecliffe which is not far distant from Reculver I met Ogier once more

I had been sunbathing when I noticed a tramp leering at me with his hand on his cock

 I was angry that he could see my scars so I confronted him saying that if he wanted to look at my cunt then he would have to share his alcohol with me

The man was no fool and asked to see my cunt before sharing his drink

I removed my shorts and he laughed at my pubic hair which I had dyed green 

I snatched his bottle and took a swig from it

It tasted stale and I smell his odour on it

I threw the bottle into the road breaking it

The tramp grabbed me by the throat and put his hand between my legs

It was then that a group of tough men rounded up by Ogier came into view and saw what was happening

They viciously attacked the tramp and beat him to a pulp

I just stood there half naked enjoying the spectacle

I was enjoying the violence

And then it was over

Ogier and the men vanished

I walked across to the tramp and pissed on to his bloodied face swearing vengeance

It was then I noticed a police car in the distance so I ran away like a wounded animal

I hid in an abandoned shack and watched as the authorities cleared up the mess

It was as I watched that I began masturbating

I was enjoying his pain which had been caused solely by me

It was then that I knew that I needed help once more

And you came to me asking me to be your companion

You will not travel with me for my whole journey as I do not want you to see me die

Death is a private thing and I will not impose this on you

I have seen many deaths during my time on the road from the tiniest creature lying mortally wounded in the road to the loss of dear friends from cruel diseases

I will die in Osaka I know that but you will have left me before that

In your later years you will visit my grave near Lake Biwa with your children

You will not grieve for me

Because you will still see me

Tomorrow we will start on the road again but before that there is something that you must do quite alone

What is that?

When the night is at its darkest you should bathe in Lake Chuzenji this will rid you of your scars and you will find that when you wake tomorrow he body will be unblemished

But what of Ogier?

I will look after Ogier I have him here in the grip of my fist

He will not trouble you

That night Maki swam in the lake and returned to the watchman’s lodge where Basho was sleeping and when she woke next morning all her scars had gone

Basho was outside as Maki walked naked towards him

My scars have gone as you said they would

You remind me of my young widow but take haste and dress as the road is long

Maki prepared herself for the journey and when she left the hut again she noticed that Basho was carving words into the frame of the door

Kenkon Muju; doko ninin

What is the meaning of that poet as my Japanese is not yet as proficient or as good as yours?

I will tell you on the day that we part

For the next week the companions travelled towards Fukushima and beyond towards Sendai where they visited the house of a  thousand generations

Each day Basho taught Maki more of his philosophy and poetry but his companion still did not attempt to write haiku

They rested on the Kinkasan Island as Basho had become feeble and lodged at the Kinkasan Lighthouse whilst the poet recovered

They spent nearly a month here and Maki often looked out at the Pacific Ocean and wondered of its vastness

She thought she saw Ogier a drowning seaman in the waves

But he did not abuse her and vanished beneath the surface

As Basho’s health improved he called her to his room

As you are aware this is my final journey and although my heath has improved it will not last

You will last for year’s poet

Maybe for a year or a little longer

Please would take the map from my locker

Maki spread the map out on the floor in front of the poet’s bed

She had marked their route from Tokyo each day

When we leave the lighthouse we will proceed to Hiraizumi and onwards to Sakata

During this time I will share the secrets of the cherry trees with you

After our time in Sakata we will follow the sea route southwards and visit both Niigata and the Ichburri Barrier where I have friends.

We will part at Nago Beach and you will find residence on the Noto Peninsula where I will ask you stay until you hear of my death

Then please travel away from this country to your beautiful country and have children and in twenty years visit me again

You will write haiku

A week later they left the lighthouse and continued on their journey

After their arrival in Hiraizumi Basho fell ill again

During this time Maki visited the many fabric stores in Hiraizumi and purchased materials of many colours

She made a thousand shirts

She vowed to wear a shirt of a different colour each day

This pleased the poet who referred to her as the rainbow girl who when the time was right would write haiku in a far off country

Within two weeks the poet was well enough to travel and when they were near the Three Mountains of Dewa  the poet asked her of cherry blossom

What do you see?

A torii gate half hidden in the mists here on Mount Haguro

Can you see the cherry blossom?

There is no cherry blossom

I can see one million cherry trees all in blossom

I can see many trees but they are not cherry trees

Close your eyes what do you see?

I see only the darkness of my blindness

Wait

I still see nothing

Open your eyes

Maki opened her eyes and in front of her were a million cherry trees all in blossom

She ran forwards away from the poet as the petals swirled around her detached in the mountain breeze

Very soon she could not see Basho and felt lost

She wandered in many directions but found no path

It was as she had given up hope that she saw a man hanging from a cherry tree

He was not yet dead

She lowered him to the ground

It was Ogier

You thought you would never see me again

I did

I am here as you still doubt your poet

You are dying as he is

I am destroying myself

Why?

I am not needed

Ogier grabbed Maki’s shirt and ripped it open exposing her breasts

I see the scars are gone

They have been gone for a while

The poet says that my body is like that of the widow he saw bathing many years ago

You have not changed

I have changed

You are still a whore

Maki slapped Ogier’s face

Fuck you Ogier even when you are dying you cannot let go

Ogier closed his eyes and lay on the bed of fallen cherry blossom

You created me I did not want to exist

Then you are forgiven

Maki lifted the dying mans head and pressed it on to her exposed breasts

Drink enemy for you journey will be a long one

The dying man suckled for a minute and then died

Maki let her tears drop into Ogier’s lifeless eyes and held him until he faded from her grip

Soon she found the path to where the poet was waiting for her

You met Ogier

I met Ogier

Is he dead?

Ogier is dead

Then you have crossed the bridge covered in cherry blossom

Neither the poet nor Maki said anything else until they arrived in Sakata

It was a busy commercial town and thy did not linger there for very long

From Sakata they travelled near to the sea until they reached Niigata

I have always called this the lucky city

Why?

Because it might have had hell imposed on it

Like Hiroshima and Nagasaki you mean

It was one of the four cities chosen the other being Kokura

It was only the distance and poor weather that saved this city I am told

It was a bleak time

A time of madmen

This happened before I was born

I remember it well

Basho and Maki wandered around the city

Maki was wearing a shirt made from golden thread and was aware of many admiring glances

See many find you beautiful

I am European and they consider my difference

They admire your beauty

I have no beauty

Your scars are gone

Ogier is dead and you are alive

You will find a mate on your far off shores

The poet and his companion left the city after a few hours and headed south towards the Ichburri Barrier which was many days away

On a number of occasions they stopped at a beach where the poet made paper boats with a single character added to each mast

Maki would swim a mile out to sea and release the boats

She did this until she was exhausted and would lie next to the poet on the sand

One of those small paper boats might make it to your Reculver and you would find it exhausted on the beach as you are now

They will not last more than a mile

Do not give up hope as I marked one with your name unbeknown to you and I would like to think that it is sailing towards England at this very moment

When I return I will seek it out

I will walk from Birchington to Whitstable looking out for the paper boat that bears my name

You country is as strange to me as I believe mine is to you

I am learning more about your country

As I am yours

Later that month the companions arrived at the Ichburri Barrier where Basho was greeted by friends

It was here that Maki found a tattooist

She asked that a white cat be tattooed onto her left shoulder

When completed she showed it to Basho

I knew your craved decoration

Every time I look at my reflection I want to remember you

A white cat

From our initial meeting you have always reminded me of a white cat

I have never been called a white cat before

Then that should be my gift to you

On her arrival at at Nago Beach Maki she found it to be busier than she had expected

There were many people

She thought it to be a strange place to leave Basho but this was his choice

I met you in Tokyo and will leave you here

You have learnt much

As I have requested please stay on the Noto Peninsula until you hear news of me

I will leave you many haiku in that brown leather bag but do not open it until you are back in your own country

I will leave whilst you sleep as I do not want to say farewell

Do not rise from your bed if you hear sounds

Was I your widow?

You were my companion and I think you have understood much

You were my widow for there were times on this journey when I thought of that day when I first understood beauty and found what a cruel mistress she could be

You should have stayed and comforted your friends widow

I was young and did not understand what I know now

If I had known what I know now I would have not travelled around Japan and would not have written the many poems that you now have

It was a choice that I made

I will never know if it was correct although I feel it was

Maki gave the poet her remaining shirts urging the old man to wear a different one each day

That night as she lay in her bed she heard the poet leave

She did not rise but touched the white cat tattooed on her shoulder

The next day she found a residence not far from the sea on the Noto Peninsula

Like Nago Beach the area was a great deal busier than she expected

But she liked the buzz and soon felt at home

She missed the poet but felt that he was with her

A year passed during which time she attempted to write Haiku but she destroyed her efforts

She did nothing in particular and was regarded locally as a European who was enjoying an extended vacation in Japan

One morning as she returned from a swim a neighbour met her not far from her house

He handed he a note

The poet is dead  

She had been expecting this news and stayed on the Peninsula for another month before returning to England

It was as she was leaving that she found a note secreted in unused shirt which the poet had pretended to take

It read

You asked me what I meant when I carved the words  Kenkon Muju; doko ninin into the door frame of the watchman’s hut not far from the shores of Lake Chuzenji

I think you know already as I asked the tattooist to add the words next to that of the white cat

Rub a fresh lemon onto the feline and the words will appear

Homeless I wander in company with God  

Maki smiled and looked at the cat each day

The words would not appear unless she rubbed a fresh lemon on them

It was the poet’s last joke

Five years later Maki was walking to Reculver with her husband and two children when she saw a battered white paper boat near to the towers

With difficulty she retrieved it

It was the paper boat with her name on it that had sailed so many thousands of miles towards the memorable towers

That evening she wrote her first Haiku and added it to the poets haiku in the brown leather bag

Such is the night that
Pilgrims cannot be silent
On the cherry roads