From Professor Nobu Kitagawa’s Notebooks On Effects of Lightning on the Human Body (Tr. from the Japanese by N. Kitagawa)

by John Latham

89. Incident on the Horikiko Coast (30/07/78)
Young couple alone, he recumbent on red rock
near pinnacle of sand-hill pocketed with grass,
she by his feet, sky making threat of raindrops
though earth remaindered dry. Mid-afternoon,
adjacent to sun’s zenith, she touching ground
at plural potions of her body, while lightning
conflaged cracked dead-bush 6m from stone,
surge entering body by left toe and knee-skins
scorched but hardly. Consciousness abandoned
but resumed itself to her beyond thirty minutes
bequeathing no damage but burn marks, livid
at spine terminus, shaping like shouting throat.
Her memories of suction into light fibrillating
like new leaves. Man felt no perverse effects,
seven heart-flowers uncorrupted in his hand,
though since he suffers rapture of tympanum.

213. Higashi-Yuri-Machi Incident (22/09/97)
In Takaiwa-Yama, summer’s declining parts,
school-teacher of language and nine-year son
relaxing in garden by lotus pool at light-fade,
playing go. No hailstones, no St. Elmo’s fire,
so foreboding invalid, yet flash strick jay-tree
20m distance, beneath whose roots iron pipe
reclined, convoying pool-water at arid times.
Predominant currents swept below go-board
and players either side, with subsidiary flow
up left leg of father, departing from his body
at index, central fingers of right hand almost
touching board. They badly cindered, fused,
yet still holding black stone for further play.
There is death in the ha-ne, as proverb says.
Boy hurtled into water, naked as carried out,
unscathed except for fern-prints on left heel.