Minako sensei passed away 10 years ago today. It was devastating at the time, and I felt unconnected and motherless. I can hardly believe that 10 years have passed and yet it seems like she has been gone forever. I am a teacher now, and that is what Minako sensei wanted for me. But, oh, do I miss her every time I step into the tea room. I am grateful to her for teaching me and encouraging me and instilling in me a love for the way of tea. I cannot imagine a life without it. In gratitude, we will celebrate Minako sensei with a chakai this weekend. I have been planning it for months, planning for 10 years….
In preparation for one meeting in a lifetime,
I swept and dusted the tea room,
unrolled the scroll to hang.
I set the kettle to boil,
scooped tea powder into the container,
rinsed the tea bowl clean.
I filled the cold water jar,
carefully wiped the tea scoop
and arranged a single flower.
When the kettle
began to sing its lament,
I made you a bowl of tea
though you were not there to drink it.
I heard your step
whispering across the tatami,
glimpsed a shadow of your kimono
in the swirls of steam.
I inhaled the fragrance of plum
on a cold winter day
and sat listening to the wind in the pines.
The tea tasted so bitter that day.