Image: 'Kitsuno' (uncredited image)

[Image: painting (?) by an unknown artist, of an encounter between a sleeping man and what appears to be a kitsuno disguised as a woman. This looks like a photograph of a painting; if so, I don’t know who took the photo, either. (I found it at this page on Tumblr, which has numerous other images of the same creature, from other sources.) For more about the kitsuno legend (a version of which is alluded to in Hannah Sanghee Park’s poem, below), see the note at the foot of this post.]

From whiskey river:

The death of self of which the great writers speak is no violent act. It is merely the joining of the great rock heart of the earth in its roll. It is merely the slow cessation of the will’s spirits and the intellect’s chatter: it is waiting like a hollow bell with a stilled tongue. Fuge, tace, quiesce. The waiting itself is the thing.

(Annie Dillard [source])


The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled. Each evening we see the sun set. We know that the earth is turning away from it. Yet the knowledge, the explanation, never quite fits the sight.

(John Berger [source])



This forest in May. It haunts my whole life:
the invisible moving van. Singing birds.
In silent pools, mosquito larvae’s
furiously dancing question marks.

I escape to the same places and same words.
Cold breeze from the sea, the ice-dragon’s licking
the back of my neck while the sun glares.
The moving van is burning with cool flames.

(Tomas Tranströmer [source])

Not from whiskey river:

The Fox Bead in May

The kiss is, strictly speaking, a passing
of of  twice: a bead from her mouth to his,
then back, ad nauseam, and the boys who lived
and died for it. The lovely girl amassing

ninety-nine spirits, and in high spirits
for consuming her highest amount. Once
the hundredth boy arrived she starts her hunt
in her haunt, a hill’s field filled with fitting

Artemisia absinthium.
And every day they kissed to swap the bead
and for a month he waned and wans

and when he learned the truth about her tongue,
he downed the bead: her true form a nine-tailed
fox who could have turned human, had he kissed on.

(Hannah Sanghee Park [source])


A Short Story of Falling

It is the story of the falling rain
to turn into a leaf and fall again

it is the secret of a summer shower
to steal the light and hide it in a flower

and every flower a tiny tributary
that from the ground flows green and momentary

is one of water’s wishes and this tale
hangs in a seed-head smaller than my thumbnail

if only I a passerby could pass
as clear as water through a plume of grass

to find the sunlight hidden at the tip
turning to seed a kind of lifting rain drip

then I might know like water how to balance
the weight of hope against the light of patience

water which is so raw so earthy-strong
and lurks in cast-iron tanks and leaks along

drawn under gravity towards my tongue
to cool and fill the pipe-work of this song

which is the story of the falling rain
that rises to the light and falls again

(Alice Oswald [source])


#5: Everyone knows: nostalgia looks to the past. Only the most careful of us sense the diaphanous, silvery truth of the very best memories: you don’t choose them as single, isolated points in time; you choose them as points in time with full knowledge of what followed. Nostalgia isn’t just about the past, then. It’s about the past’s future — everything that’s come between the past moment and the present one. We’re looking back on the past’s future. If circumstance B hadn’t followed event A, and if in turn B hadn’t unfolded into contexts C, D, and E, then our recollection of B wouldn’t hold a fraction of the poignancy, the power it does for us. Do you know where the word nostalgia comes from? Traced back far enough, you’ll find the Sanskrit nasate, which means: he approaches.

(JES, Maxims for Nostalgists)


Note: Stories of foxes with magical powers — especially, foxes with multiple (often nine) tails and lifespans centuries long — are many. In Japan, such a creature is called a kitsune; in China, huli jing or jiuweihu; and in Korea, kumiho (or jumiho). In the Korean version which Hannah Sanghee Park’s poem references, a kumiho possesses a magic bead called a yeowu guseul (“fox bead”). Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about the bead (note that the transfer of supernatural powers requires a good deal of patience to acquire a yeowu guseul, should one be lucky enough to be in a kumiho‘s company):

According to Korean mythology, the yeowu guseul provides power to the kumiho and knowledge (and intelligence) to people if they can steal and swallow one. The kumiho can absorb humans’ energy with it. The method of absorbing energy with the “yeowu guseul” resembles a “deep kiss,” (i.e. a kiss using tongue.) The kumiho sends the yeowu guseul into people’s mouths and then retake it with their tongues. If that person swallows the yeowu guseul, however, and then observes “sky, land, and people,” each observation gives the observer preternatural knowledge.

The story formed the basis for a short-lived Korean TV sitcom, My Girlfriend Is a Nine-Tailed Fox, which aired in 2010. Here’s the cover for the show’s soundtrack album:

Image: 'My Girlfriend Is a Nine-Tailed Fox' soundtrack cover

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