Like One Who Has Mingled Freely with the World
I cannot fly. I jump and jump to imitate a bird.
Surrounded by children, I leap up
with a huge silk scarf around my shoulders
to look like a crane. They laugh and laugh
and push me into a rabbit skin and watch.
At night I glint with long ears and peep through
a window misted with the steam from a tea kettle,
hoping that they’ll let me in. I’m mostly alone.
They want to keep me as a legend:
invisible, silly, a hopeless woman-chaser.
That’s what I was to the girl in a wedding kimono.
She screamed when I popped up from the rice paddy
like a big frog, sniffed her musk, aroused, and got
very tired. There’s no harm in me except some
occasional cuts. They’re meant to remind you of life.
Dirty, honest, lonely—if the sun was a pool
of red ink, I’d dive in and come out
beautiful, tanned, cancerous. Death
might cheer me up, make me feel
more human. Perched on a wooden fence,
I hold an umbrella up against the clear sky,
but no bird or animal falls from the sun.
It looks bigger than yesterday, like a bad sore
geese have pecked at over and over, and now
it’s bulging, festering, ready to gush down
and drown us. I won’t tell anyone about it. I wait.
It might drop some riches, some food, some wings.
Copyright © 2018 by Yuki Tanaka
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission
Yuki Tanaka was born and raised in Yamaguchi, Japan. He is an MFA student at the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas-Austin. His poems and co-translations have appeared in Best New Poets, Kenyon Review, Poetry, Paris Review, and elsewhere. His forthcoming chapbook, Séance in Daylight, won the 2018 Frost Place Chapbook Competition.
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