Published in Blithe Spirit 28 (4)
First light. With fumbling hands, I reach for matches. Striking one, I wait for the initial burst of flame to die down, then gently place it tip to tip with a stick of Japanese incense for a few seconds. The stick is thin and around six inches long, fragile enough to need careful handling so as not to break. As it catches light, the tip begins to glow, and I note the familiar aroma of sandalwood and jasmine enter my nose, slowly raising it to touch my forehead in a sign of respect. Again, with slow deliberate movements, I place it fully upright in a bowl of earth and take my seat on the cushion.
the mist clears
breath by breath