By ENOMOTO SACLACO.
Translated by Eric Selland.
ONLY A VOICE calling “Krzysztof” is audible. I’m thinking about the radio that sank to the bottom of the lake. From the birch forest approaching the shore, the crying of an infant at its mother’s breast, or no, could it be the squeaking of the spine of a deer that’s lost one eye? A proclamation drowned out by all the static.
How to board an absent, transparent spacecraft or submarine: you weave your way between the blind fish, and cling to their hard outer skins with your nails at the speed of light, then you eventually reach a huge ice-star. They shave their entire bodies in the way of the sailors of ancient times. Shall we wear elephant’s bladders on our heads and dive into the aquarium’s pool?
It seems what is invited by the fluorescent lamp is more than moths and beetles. Also in the detention camp at the edge of the enclave, there should be a woman living with walnuts for eyes. She throws a cat off the top of a cliff. Flowers of the gardenia bloom from the newspaper article.
Eventually the books stop flapping, dropping their weight through the gaps between the pages, and wait for the female goat’s udders to grow. Soon, hoofs and horns will appear. It seems that the veins of the leaves can be seen through the profile roasted in the afternoon sun. The ladies tire of talking, and take watering cans in their hands, their figures the only things left shining as they insert an intravenous drip into the burning viol in the corner of the garden.
Scattered along the coastline
Rhinoceros horns – no, footprints,
Or perhaps the soles of the feet
Lit up in the heat haze,
Or ferns faintly beginning to change color,
The sound of their wheezing
Carrying a net to capture the sun hidden in the back of the throat, they walked on, gradually erasing, rusting the golden hinges, or perhaps it is an uncertain electromagnetic wave that grabbed the tips of their noses, or something like a mosquito flying in the emptiness, but the feet are caught up in the sticky saliva collecting in the dents of the tongue and melt away, in either case there is a sour smell, taste, and sound. The stars of the Pleiades are inserted into seven separate envelopes, and gaze at the fish swimming. Waves are born from the glitter of their scales, but multiple scales block the navigation of the moon and become almost indistinguishable from the tranquil smell of the sand. We forget completely about the castanets
The testicles of the god Pan, preserved in formaldehyde, give off a pale green shine, while drops of fine rain adhere to the surface of a replica of the black phallus, which also produces a faintly luminescent glow. When unripe oranges are squeezed from the twilit coordinates of Capricorn, those who teased the sleeping pills with their tongues, easily crush the childish things with their fingers.
The hemp twine used to tie Pluto
around the long and graceful necks of the swans
isn’t very polite;
In the process of peeling the wallpaper
the smell of cinnamon permeates
the picture of winter,
and occasionally the drawbridge also
The shadows of the fishermen, who listen carefully to the crumbling icons and try to stick their fingers in their pupils, dry out completely. When they try and break the muddy crystal beside them, there is a camel moving its molars, and a trout lily flying from village to village like an arctic sea slug flexing its kidneys, then they load the dogsleds lined up along the shore of the lake with bandages and let them sink deep in the mountains.
They remove their jewelry and place it on the shoulders of the constellation Auriga, then pour honey on the gentle bulge from the collarbone to the chest; eucalyptus trees grow in the quiet ocean, and a gentle breeze makes their branches sway; the warm fur of the rabbits is filled with fine sand and dust, and when they get soaked in the transparent rain, they look as if they’ve been covered with volcanic ash, and hardened into statues of dogs.
Those who dropped out of Sunday
Are drenched in its own microcosmos
Exploding dried fruit
The scent of a tropical land confined within it
Has an unfamiliar reddish-brown color
Becomes a cradle just for you
People of abundant polka dots
I wanted to sew Pegasus onto the blurry sky of noon, so I passed an airplane’s vapor trail through the needle hole; even the long tongue of an anteater, a kangaroo’s tail, or a whalebone would do. A hot air balloon crosses the cotton sea where a torpedo swims, and some digestive organs are floating in the atmosphere, dragged by a kind of swimming sea cucumber listening to their weak heartbeat.
The nasal consonant has the value of θ
The white-bellied green pigeon’s nest is mixed in
Built along the edge of an opal
We express this with the symbol φ
Below the clock tower there is also winter
It looks quite warm, exhaling silence
From the Carboniferous strata
Numberless camellias are cut down and flow to the fishing port, then soft silver seeds like paper plates are caught on the fasteners of the frozen bags on the eyes and ears of Umibozu, the legendary sea monster. Too busy leaning against the piano wire, he almost stumbles even though there are mosquito larvae with a toothache on the grassland all dried up. Then he wraps it in powdered agar and impregnates an island girl with the tip of a bamboo pole, passing a wet compress.
One dry cough
The chromosomes contained in the eye ointment
Fall down, try spelling it out in lithograph
It’s like a cylindrical child
The compass stuck to the wharf, though crying
Sweat is the color of dried leaves
The tropical butterfly and the finch, which are no longer recognizable, reflect the azure rays of light, while a camera at some distance from the hydrangea flies behind the black leather mirror, entangled in the breath of a sleeping shark; a few crickets are perched on the edge of a cool goldfish bowl buried in sawdust, but from the perspective of the scrutinizing eye of a gamecock, they look no better than cocklebur and beans with ears on their legs.
The spent casing falls
The sound rises up through the walls
The big papier-mâché ball bursts open
And the purple fruit of the chocolate vine falls out
Sometimes milk drips on the forest path
The sound of a siren can be heard in the distance
Bright flowering of trout in a remote river
In the shadows of the ivy-covered quail, pots, kettles, and other kitchen implements are said to be hiding; some early-ripening medicinal mushrooms are being dried by threading straw through the openings in a bamboo basket; hanging a pair of rubber sandals with studs and a white onion on a swing whose paint has peeled; then aligning the heads of the elegant nails, the hard candy surrounding the bamboo screen begins to melt (the pepper must be too strong), and the eyes are turning the color of autumn leaves.
Suspicion of florid umbrellas
His whistle as bright as cotton candy
Sometimes the images are in disarray
Resplendent, old pop songs also burn
To the Japanese elm, Kumbhīra
Enomoto Saclaco received the Gendaishi Techo prize in 2011. Her poetry collections include Straddling the Multiplying Eyes, Don’t Take Aspirin on an Empty Stomach, Röntgen: A Submerged Flower Pot, and Lontano. Saclaco is unusual in Japan’s poetry scene because of her fundamentally oppositional stance towards literature and society as a whole and the experimental nature of her work, a structurally and semantically dense prose poetry. She lives in Saitama Prefecture.
Eric Selland has translated Modernist and contemporary Japanese poets for nearly forty years. He is currently editing an anthology of Japanese Modernist and avant-garde poetry with poet and translator Sawako Nakayasu. New translations include The Day Laid Bare by Kiwao Nomura and Kusudama, by Minoru Yoshioka (both on Isobar Press). His latest collection of poems is Object States (Theenk Books, 2018). Eric has translated a number of contemporary novels as well, including The Guest Cat, by Takashi Hiraide. He lives in Tokyo with his wife and a black shiba named Ku.