Blackberries in the Dream House

Chapter 1: Child of the Snow

Blackberry soap, wooden buckets, rivulets of steaming water over your shoulders in waterfalls, cascading over the seashell curves of the muscles in your arms. Then back into the steam of the blue-tiled tub in the bath house. I do this with my hands.

You are a Zen Buddhist monk and I am your almond Aphrodite. The monks in the temple call you Kenji, but I call you Lotus Sun.

My name is Yukiko, "Child of the Snow." My parents named me this because I was born in February on the night of the full moon, while the sky was white and full of crystals. I am twenty-one years old, and I am a geisha in Kyoto. I live in Pontocho.

In our tradition we know that before you are born, you meet with the Snow Angels to learn about your path on the jade and sapphire jewel the humans call Earth. The Snow Angels told me the last seven times I traveled to this lovely oasis flying through space, I was a monk or a priestess in the temple. They brought me to different places each time I slid down the Earth Tunnel, and wherever I went, I learned to sing the language of God. There are different melodies around the Flying Jewel, but they all blend together on their way back home.

"This time," the angels told me, "you will go to the land of Japan and be a geisha. You will learn music, poetry, dancing, gentle conversation, and the art of love. You have served well as a priestess, but there is a song in your blood that wants to know other things. It is time now."

I bowed my head and started drifting down on the snow clouds to my mother's home, where her belly was curved like a moon cake. For a while I hovered around her like a firefly. Then I lived inside her for seven moons, until she pushed me out. It's hard and painful to be born, and as you crawl down the Snake Tunnel, you forget everything.