Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Tuesday poem #567 : Sonia Saikaley : A Winter Festival



Once in the land of the rising sun,
I witnessed lit candles along a canal.


It was February in a city in Hokkaido

filled with tourists wanting to see the Winter Festival

with gigantic snow sculptures

and a field of mid-sized snowballs with scarves,

carrot noses and black bean eyes.


I snapped photo after photo like other tourists

and longed for my cold city

in another country far from here.


Winter numbed my uncovered skin

between my wool scarf and hat.

It was as cold as my hometown

maybe even slightly colder on this day.


A winter festival with a canal lit with flickering candles,

giving the illusion of warmth on this night.


I bowed and prayed like a Shinto nun,

my sins would have scorched snow sculptures,

melted them into puddles of holy water.

Maybe God would have mercy

if Buddha convinced Him

I wasn’t a sinner, only human.


Neither Catholic nor Buddhist,

I shivered, rubbed my gloved hands together,

holding them over the shimmering candles.





Sonia Saikaley is a Lebanese-Canadian author whose novel The Allspice Bath won the 2020 Independent Publishers Book Award Gold Medal and the 2020 International Book Awards for Multicultural Fiction. Other works include two poetry collections, a children’s picture book and an award-winning novella. She is a graduate of the University of Ottawa and the Humber School for Writers.

the Tuesday poem is curated by rob mclennan

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