Last year in June, the poet Yoko Danno was one of the featured readers at an Author’s Live event in Kobe, hosted by Jared Angel. In addition to a magnificent selection of her own work, Yoko presented a collaborative set of linked quatrains written at the beginning of 2015. In addition to Yoko and myself, the other writers involved are Jessica Goodfellow, Ikuyo Yoshimura, and Goro Takano. After the reading I said that I would post the linked poem “soon,” and now — not quite one year later — it has finally agreed to make an appearance.
A Chimera Grows During the Thaw
A winter’s wild sheep chase
has left me with only a few handfuls of wool.
Smelling rank and animal, but still it makes
a perfect nest for spinning this year’s chimeras.
On the imperfect nest made of
some twigs, a dove has been sitting
for this month beside the window
without watching me and without cooing.
Silent as an icicle the night dissolves.
Haphazard morning light skims the winter―
sweet just past the window facing south,
a spicy scent too far away to breathe.
How far is it to the retreat? ― the fog
burnt off, hedges of clouds illuminated
in afterglow, pine needles stuck into sky,
the backpack weighs on my shoulders.
Your bare shoulder twisted
on my silver spoon touches
my dark eyes reflected
on my silver knife and clicks.
Clicks across the telephone line
are like islands of void sparks
each electric pulse indicating a cut
where the eel has been disconnected.
The old man says an eel in the deep lake
might live for more than one hundred years,
he often appears before the natural disasters
but no one watches him at the lakeside.
Cattails huddle at the lakeside.
Sparse raindrops on the water’s surface
punch out braille messages to the fish,
from their winter torpor ascending.
The weird way the persistent sound
buzzing in my ears is threatening!
Don’t worry about the message ―
Today is National Headache Holiday.
A real headache is when every capital
and small letter catching my eye
starts to dance amorously as if
to lead me to shut my ears to words.
My ears have started growing
hairs with age. I like to think of them
as the young worms of spring
wriggling toward the warm sun.
House garden bathed in warm sunlight,
kids make a small rainbow with a watering can,
a cat is sleeping on the balcony,
that dreamlike day is like drops of the water.
Grease swirls atop the dishwater
spinning oily figures 3 and 5.
Tax forms unfinished on the desk.
Even in my dreams, troubling numbers.
Finding no exit from my tangled-up dreams,
I stumbled down the stairs to the platform.
The train circled round and round on the loop
as if intoxicated with much drink in celebration.
Two broken cellphones are left touching
each other in a dustbin of this closed room
where we’ll sit in a ring and discuss how
dialogue can unconsciously hurt the weak.
A weak rain is enough to
break the flowers
into shards of soft
melted ice cream.
Melting honey in hot Assam tea
he asked me the weather when we met first.
Sorry, I only remember the depth of blue of iris
that is the same color of my dress I wore.
Sieving mulberry pulp with screens
we cull washi from cloudy water
you dye yours to match my blue irises
I dye mine any color but that one.
Sakura season has come round―
I wonder if the planet earth revolves
faster than before, or dyed hair grows
quicker, thawing frost at the roots.