Like One Who Has Mingled Freely with the World

Yuki Tanaka

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.

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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.

American Poetry Review

September/October 2018

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Elizabeth Scanlon

The American Poetry Review is dedicated to reaching a worldwide audience with a diverse array of the best contemporary poetry and literary prose. APR also aims to expand the audience interested in poetry and literature, and to provide authors, especially poets, with a far-reaching forum in which to present their work.

APR has continued uninterrupted publication of The American Poetry Review since 1972, and has included the work of over 1,500 writers, among whom there are nine Nobel Prize laureates and thirty-three Pulitzer Prize winners.

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