Second Daughter, pt. xi

“Your mother is having you make your first set of clothes as a married woman?” Kaori’s father wrinkles his brow as Kaori sets down the tea pot. She cannot relax into her cushion; she can tell something is not right.

“Yes, although I did not know until I commented on the sleeves.”

“Interesting…” There is a pause as the two sip their tea. Kaori’s eyes wander around the room, taking in details. Her father’s gaze has settled onto the far right edge of the table: poetry is coming.

“It has been a long time since we shared verses, my fragrant blossom. Will you indulge your old man?”

“You are hardly old, father. The fragrance of a blossom can only be supported by the healthiest of trunks.” Kaori waits.

“Please, share one of yours. I give you the honor of the first verse.”

Kaori takes a slow sip of her tea to give herself time to think. She sets down the cup.

Root snow nurturing
bulbs, carefully planted, grow.
Yet we cannot see.

Her father takes in the verse. He raises his teacup, sips, and lowers it back to the table. Even while discussing her impending marriage, Kaori still feels like a scolded child. This time she does not tear up, she will not miss this feeling. She knows she has been too forward, but for the first time Kaori recognizes that when she is in her own household, she will be in control of this feeling; So she hopes. Her father takes a deep breath.

Icicles hang from rooftops
white lanterns and colored sash.

Kaori looks intently at her father. He alludes to a wedding in winter. Winter is almost over, but her brother is not to be married yet, the Matchmaker has only started to look for her earlier this week… She brings the tea quickly to her lips to hide her surprise without spilling a drop, sips slowly, and lowers it slowly. It is difficult to bring forth and ordered verse from the chaos her father has just thrown her mind into, but he has raised Kaori well.

Carp eggs float away
a few bundle together
oldest unhatched.

Kaori’s father twists the edge of his mouth so very slightly. The verse is obvious, but Kaori has done the best she could in such a shocking situation. How did she not know? Or more importantly, why? She waits for her father’s response. Her gaze is intense, and his smile widens. She sips her tea in an attempt to smooth her brow. It doesn’t work.

First blossom falls eagerly,
A vibrant sapling sprouts up.

Kaori has so many questions now, in the middle of this exchange with her father, her mind leaps over whole sentences still unformed in her head, but the words and their verses are heavy. She must decide on her question, nurture its images and metaphors and cloth it in subtlety, very much like she would raise a child. She knows her sister has been engaged in things her father would disapprove of, but he seems happy now. The verse begins to take shape in Kaori’s mind.

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