For these words alone, I was ready to pardon . . .
— from Rashomon, the movie

In 1950 a Japanese period film
portrayed the killing of a samurai
and the rape of his wife.
Four separate and different
versions of the tragedy are
vividly told by the characters
in the story: the bandit, the wife,
the samurai (as told through
a medium), and the woodcutter.

Who speaks the truth?
Who knows the truth?
Who hides the truth?
What is the truth?

A priest, with whom
the woodcutter shares
his story becomes disillusioned.
He begins to lose his faith
in humanity, seeing
each person
shaping a reality
colored by their
particular interest.
Then the woodcutter
does something magnanimous
restoring the priest’s
hope for humankind.

Howard Richard Debs is a recipient of the 2015 Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Awards. His essays, fiction, and poetry appear internationally in numerous publications. His photography is featured in select publications, including in Rattle online as “Ekphrastic Challenge” artist and guest editor. His book Gallery: A Collection of Pictures and Words (Scarlet Leaf Publishing), is the recipient of a 2017 Best Book Award and 2018 Book Excellence Award. His book Political (Cyberwit Press) is the 2021 American Writing Awards winner in poetry. He is co-editor of New Voices: Contemporary Writers Confronting the Holocaust, forthcoming from Vallentine Mitchell of London, publisher of the first English language edition of the of Anne Frank's diary. He is listed in the Poets & Writers Directory. Read other articles by Howard Richard, or visit Howard Richard's website.