A friend's come to visit,
I'm thinking,
and mother goes out
and is saying,
She's seeped into paper
and can no longer come out, you see.
A terrible thing to say, I think, and touch my face,
and there's nothing on it.
I go to a mirror
and a brownish sheet of paper has a faint smudge
that looks like my portrait,
and it appears to be me.
What a disastrous thing to happen to me, I'm thinking,
as I stare at the mirror,
and the picture, undulating, is disappearing.
Unthinkingly I rub it with both hands
and the hands are also disappearing along with it.
Mother brings in my friend.
Look at her.
She was sucked in by that old paper.
These days her color is gradually fading
and sooner or later will disappear. That's her illness, you see.
Her voice saying this
is also gradually fading.


The Salmon

I thought I heard a voice, so went out,
and at the entrance a large bear stood.
What can I do for you, I asked,
and he said, Would you buy a salmon from me?
I've just caught it myself, you see.
The bear looked very much like my father,
and I was thinking, It's just a salmon,
I shouldn't mind buying it,
but what can I do with such a large, live salmon?
when the bear said,
I'll just leave it here,
please do whatever you like with it, ma'am,
and left, without taking any money for it.
The salmon said,
Please treat me nicely.
By treat me nicely
does he mean, Eat me as you please, I wondered,
and said, I like salmon broiled with butter,
and he looked scared.
At dinnertime I broiled salted salmon and offered it to the salmon,
and he ate it, looking unperturbed.

I deliberately kept feeding salted salmon
to the salmon who was utterly useless
but whom I now was in no position to eat,
yet the salmon lived on nonchalantly.
One such day
the bear came again,
this time bringing an even larger salmon.



X Month X Day
My square body put into an oval cage,
I'm now hung near a window people pass by.
The four corners bulging out of the cage
are needled by many humiliating glances, and painful.
All my heart has gone to that pain
so my body in the cage
has now become almost blank
yet the greater the pain the further the four corners stretch out,
and the busier the people's comings and goings grow,
tormenting my four corners stretching out.

X Month X Day
For as many as a hundred years I've drawn water into a basket.
Me doing only something like this, a hundred years have just passed by, I thought,
and I became sad.
We have just one life,
but because I've drawn from it for a hundred years, has my well
gone dry?
A wind is blowing up from its bottom.

X Month X Day
Morning, I awake, and am very hungry.
If I leave myself alone, I might turn into tissue.
The best I can hope for would be myself turning into that black tissue.
I'd be wiping somebody's ass in a toilet.
Does anybody use such tissue these days?
I better eat something fast, I think,
but I have no mouth.
I touch every part of my face
but can't find it.


Bad Luck

From what appears to be a very remote place my father telephones me
and says,
I've recently turned into a roach
and I don't think we'll recognize each other even if we meet again.
Imagining my father, now a roach, swimming, glittering,
I think he must have been freed from that blue-bloated bad luck,
and start to say,
Well, then, my luck linked to it . . .
but he says, Bye now,
and the phone dies.

I imagine myself turned into a roach,
but for me, who took a swimming class in which everybody was supposed to learn to swim
but in the end couldn't swim,
to turn into a roach
seems to mean even worse luck becoming heavy.



Because my chest has a seeping pain
I crouch, pressing it down,
there's a rumor that something is in a closet in my house,
so saying, my neighbors come
and all of them together open the closet
and there is a stranger, an old woman,
who says, This is an important moment, don't come in.
I'm hatching an egg, she says.
This is not your house, we say,
and pull her out against her wishes.
I needed only a little more time,
she says and is crying.
From outside the glass door
two pearly beads are peering in.
They are also the children I hatched, the old woman says.
This time your child was going to be hatched,
she shakes me back and forth, crying.
My chest pain increases.
I'm crouched in silence.


(C) Nobuko Kimura / Hiroaki Sato