On Easter Sunday last year, I heard an American soldier speak in the Catholic church on Kawaramachi street. He was uneasy, only twenty-four, and by avocation a photographer. The translator hobbled him somewhat, but he had presence, and he told his story––a story of how, south of Baghdad, his unit killed three goats and one child, in error; and of how, in reparation, the Army paid out $200 U.S. for the girl, and $1,200 more for her father’s livestock. The soldier had made his stop in Kyoto, on a long walk from Hiroshima to Tokyo, with a group of Buddhist monks––a walk undertaken for whatever it might accomplish in the name of peace.
After the meeting, the soldier stepped outside for a smoke, and took a seat beside me on the steps. A young Japanese woman approached him. She said she spoke no English––a fact for which she apologized in English. She extended her hand to touch his. “You have beautiful eyes,” she said.
No desert mirage,
in this sorry botch of a war––
three goats dead, one child.