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like cherry blossoms swift we fall

If she dies? She has her hand on the hilt,
aware of herself; aware of what she
must not do, not yet. Nothing has been split
out of her, yet. She knows of the red sea
and the purple stars. Her father told her
about the witch-queens; how that long ago
one of them helped save the world. Her mother
taught her the “Way of the Sword,” Bushido
and how death in war is the greatest gift
any samurai could hope for. What’s death
next to letting down your mother? Afraid
does not work here. “Like cherry-blossoms, swift
we fall,”
the poem goes. With a deep breath,
she took a step forward and drew her blade.

* * *


Bushido, “the way of the warrior,” is a feudal Japanese word for the samurai’s code of ethics. It has been compared to the Western concept of chivalry. As a philosophy, it stresses loyalty, martial arts and that death in battle is the greatest gift a warrior might receive.