Going around the Day



At a cleaners' entrance,
I ask, Would you wash these scallions?
There are nine of them, I add.
Don't tell us all that detail,
we do our job right.
Things like which household needs how many
we check out, it's our business, she says, angry.
I've brought what I need, I retort.
Everyone's sniggering.
As if spotlit alone, I'm uncomfortable.

In front of the cleaners is an empty lot.
You don't have to worry so, just leave it to me.
Why don't you go over there and relax?
so saying, the woman walks away.
The empty lot is full of people,
in separate packs, talking.
There is no friend of mine, no acquaintance.
But, being alone, apart, will seem odd,
and I begin to walk.
On my way I step on a scallion stalk,
slip, and fall.



The moment our eyes meet
on the bridge,
the man turns into a fish
and is slapping himself against the ground.
Blood begins to ooze
but as if there's something he can't slap enough,
no matter how many times he slaps, slaps,
he doesn't stop,
even though I can easily pass him by.

The sound of the river grows clearer.
Everything else is quiet,
even though I can easily pass him by.

The man still doesn't stop.
The sound of the river deepens,
even though I can easily pass him by.
The smell of the fish thickens,
even though I can easily pass him by.


The Staircase

I go home,
and rats are running all over the place.
In the oven lies the cat who's been with us since the old days.

On the wall to the north
hang a bull's head and a goat's.
Also hangs there the head of myself as a girl.

On the earthen floor my younger siblings are having a meal.
Only this place is as quiet as an old Western painting.
I open the kitchen cabinet and there's a staircase.

I go down the staircase.
I go down and down but the staircase continues.
I gradually become hungry.

I step off the staircase and there's an earthen floor
and my younger siblings are having a meal.
I open the kitchen cabinet and there's a staircase.

I go down the staircase.
I become even more hungry.
I go down and down but the staircase continues.



You roll a bandage around your finger.
Even though it is my finger that was wounded, you
roll a bandage around your finger.
When my finger pales, you,
harried and flustered, roll it tighter.
What was wounded was just my little finger,
but you,
not content to roll all your fingers with a bandage,
in the end roll a bandage around your sixth finger
that doesn't exist, and you
come forward to strangle me.


The Doctor

I give him my broken eyeglasses, and the doctor says,
Oh, these,
and, putting them in water, says,
For a while I'd like to see what happens to them,
please take a seat there and wait.

I wait and wait,
but he says nothing more about it,
so I ask timidly,
and he says,
Oh, those.
With the eyeglasses of someone dead,
there's nothing you can do.
You just give up on them
or keep waiting like this.

I ask him about the examination fee,
and he says,
It's seven yen,
but people usually leave a little more than that.
I offer him ten yen,
and he says, all smiles,
You must feel uncomfortable without eyeglasses,
I'll take you home.
I'll be all right, I decline,
but he says, You say that, ma'am,
but I must meet the person in question
and explain so she'll understand.
This is a doctor's duty,
he says, taking off his white robe, preparing.


The Mouth

After the funeral was finished,
I was eating takeout leftovers,
and the way my mouth moved
was very obscene, I thought.
Then what I was eating
became even more delicious.


The Summer Night

I was sleeping naked. Midnight
I realized I was wrapped in a blanket.
It's so hot, what's this?
You really piss me off!
Getting angry, I swept it aside,
and he said, I see, one isn't enough,
and wrapped me in another, much larger blanket
and held me down.
No matter how I struggled,
he kept holding me down, saying, Don't worry.
You are the only person who does things like this to me.
You never do anything I ask you to do for me,
but always do something like this to me.
The more I struggled, the more tightly he held me down.
Tears came out. Then, I awoke.

Oh, that was a horrible dream.
But it was nice you were beside me.
So saying, I groped.
There was no one.
The more I groped,
the more awake I became.


The Hands

Hands stretched from behind my back
are trying to wrench my breasts off.
The hands, which are far plumper than my breasts,
are twisting, twisting them.
Stop that, I want to say, but my voice doesn't come out.
The strength to brush the hands away is gone, too.
It sure has to be that woman.

Your hubby, I tell you,
was walking with a young woman,
says an acquaintance I see on the street.
You couldn't have,
he died more than half a year . . . while I'm saying that,
a young woman pops up.
Don't bother us anymore.
The two of us, we're doing just fine.
You think I'm lying, just come see us,
she says, and tries to pull me away.
You, stop all this nonsense,
I have nothing to do with all that,
I brush her aside, and there is no more of the woman
nor the acquaintance.
These are the hands of that woman.
They're still doing it
as if twisting off a fruit.



Out of the closet a hand has swooped
and is pulling my leg.
I jerk my leg back
and that's that.

My heart is thump-thumping.
My leg retains that hand's sensation.

I get up and out, and check the closet
but there's nothing in it.

Since I've gotten up I go to pee.
There can't be anyone in a concrete building like this,
I know,
but still thump-thumping,
I pull my panties down, fearfully,
pull them down, looking around.

In a great hurry I pee
and run to my futon.
I dive into it up to my head but my thump-thumping doesn't stop.

I get up once again
and pull my futon to a room without a closet
to sleep.


(C) Nobuko Kimura / Hiroaki Sato