Jizo’s Bib

As parents we walk a tight rope, between giving our children liberty, letting them test their bodies to climb and jump and explore, and keeping them safe, protecting this small kernel that we call life.

cars zoom by —
the only smack
I gave her

his mother’s throat
the boy
on the highest branch

No parents should have to bury their child. My friend has buried two, his only two, both grown-ups. Grief has taken away his short-term memory, his ability to work, his joy, his energy, his will. All he wants is to sleep.

grey day
Jizos’ bibs
are limp

Jizo’s smile
a man’s eyes
turn grey

Jizo is the bodhisattva for (among other things) children who die before their parents. Such is the grief of loosing a child, that no one else can imagine it. The attachment is so strong, the sadness so great, that it is believed that the child cannot transfer between this life and the next, and must make piles of stones on the bed of the river of hell, again and again, only to have them torn down, a Sisyphean task to gain merit for their parents and themselves. Apparently Jizo helps them, hides them in his sleeves. He also acts for aborted or miscarried foetuses. Therefore parents visit Jizo, place bibs or hats on him, beseech him on behalf of their children.

empty sky
a woman at the window

Jizo garden
years later she places
a pebble

I don’t know what is worse, this legend or the dry probability that death is the end. Even believing in everlasting life doesn’t help believers who have lost children. Not really. 



Carpe Diem #399, Tatsueji (Temple 19)

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