Chimako Tada Poems

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A Spray Of Water: Tanka [the Round Spoon]

the round spoon
with the curvature
of a concave mirror
scoops out my eye

A Spray Of Water: Tanka [the Hot Water In]

the hot water in
the abandoned kettle
slowly cools
still carrying the resentment

A Spray Of Water: Tanka [one Narcissus]

one narcissus
draws close to another
like the only

Person Of The Playful Star: Tanka [i Listen To Songs]

I listen to songs
of someone handsome
at the apex of night
the Milky Way overflows

Person Of The Playful Star: Tanka [there Is A Hole At]

there is a hole at
the end of night
a secret
surrounded by red


The mirror is always slightly taller than I
It laughs a moment after I laugh
Turning red as a boiled crab
I cut myself from the mirror with shears

Putting on My Face

Facing the mirror, I put on my face
Apply a thin layer of makeup
But not like usual this time, not like each night
Tonight, I become an adolescent boy!

A fifteen-year-old boy's shirt and blazer
A fifteen-year-old boy's slacks
Strangely enough, they fit me well
I become a boy just before his beard comes in

This bet I wager takes hardly any cash
Not even as dangerous as a bet I suppose
Secretly switch jack for queen
And all is well, no one will know
(Repaint a rusty boat and at the right time
The launching ceremony will commence
All eyes on deck focused on the bow)

No longer will I envy any man or woman
I do not need perfume or pistols
Just think and I can be
Concrete woman
Or abstract man

The night grows long
Preparations done, I am ready to go
Among people who are
Neither husband nor lover
Farewell, unfamiliar adolescent in the mirror
Until that boyish dawn one step this side of man

From a Woman of a Distant Land


In this country, we do not bury the dead. We enclose them like dolls in glass cases and decorate our houses with them.
People, especially the cultivated ones from old families, live surrounded by multitudes of dignified dead. Our living rooms and parlors, even our dining rooms and our bedrooms, are filled with our ancestors in glass cases. When the rooms become too full, we use the cases for furniture.
On top of where my twenty-five-year-old great-grandmother lies, beautiful and buried in flowers, we line up the evening soup bowls.


We do not sing in chorus. When four people gather, we weave together four different melodies. This is what we call a relationship. Such encounters are always a sort of entanglement. When these entanglements come loose, we scatter in four directions, sometimes with relief, sometimes at wit's end.


I wrote that we scatter in four directions, but I did not mean that we merely return home, scattering from one another like rays of light radiating from a single source.
When there is no more need to be together, we scatter in four different directions, but none of us ever breaks the horizon with our tread.
Because people are afraid at the thought of their feet leaving the earth, we turn around one step before reaching the horizon. After thirty years, those faces we wished to see never again enter our fields of vision.


In this country, everyone fears midday. In the daytime, the dead are too dead. Bathed in the sharp view of the sun, our skin crawls, and we shudder.
When the nights, vast and deaf, vast and blind, descend with size great enough to fill the distances between us, we remove our corsets and breathe with relief. When we lie down to sleep at the bottom of the darkness, we are nearly as content as the corpses around us.


The sight of fresh new leaves scares us. Who is to say that those small buds raising their faces upon the branches are not our own nipples? Who is to say that the soft, double blades of grass stretching from the wet earth are not the slightly parted lips of a boy?


In the springtime, when green begins to invade our world, there is no place for us to take refuge outside, and so we hide in the deepest, darkest recesses of our houses. Sometimes we crane our necks from where we hide between our dead brothers, and we gaze at the green hemisphere swelling before our eyes. We are troubled by many fevers; we live with thermometers tucked under our arms.
Do you know what it means to be a woman, especially to be a woman in this country, during the spring?
When I was fifteen, becoming a woman frightened me. When I was eighteen, being a woman struck me as loathsome. Now, how old am I? I have become too much of a woman. I can no longer return to being human; that age is gone forever. My head is small, my neck long, and my hair terribly heavy.


We can smile extremely well. So affable are our smiles that they are always mistaken for the real thing. Nonetheless, if by some chance our smiles should go awry, we fall into a terrible state. Our jaws slacken, and our faces disintegrate into so many parts.
When this happens, we cover our faces with our handkerchiefs and withdraw. Shutting ourseleves alone in a room, we wait quietly until our natural grimace returns.


During our meals, sometimes a black, glistening insect will dart diagonally across the table. People know perfectly well where this giant insect comes from. When it dashes between the salad and the loaf of bread, people fall silent for a moment, then continue as if nothing had happened.
The insect has no name. That is because nobody has ever dared talk about it.


Three times each day, all of the big buildings sound sirens. The elementary schools, theaters, and even the police stations raise a long wail like that of a chained beast suffering from terrible tedium.
No matter where one is in this country, one cannot escape this sound—not even if one is making love, not even if one peering into the depths of a telescope.
Yes, there are many telescopes in this country. There is always a splendid telescope at each major intersection in town. People here like to see things outside of their own country. Every day many people, while looking through the lens of one of these telescopes, are struck by stray cars and killed.


When the faint aroma of the tide wafts upon the wind into town, people remember that this country lies by the sea. This sea, however, is not there for us to navigate; it is there to shut us in. The waves are not there to carry us; they continue their eternal movement so we will give up all hope.
Like the waves that roll slowly from the shore, we sigh heavily. We throw our heads back, then hang them in resignation. We crumple to the ground, our skirts fanning over the dunes...


Ignorant of all this, trading ships laden with unknown products, move into the harbor. People speak in unknown languages; unknown faces appear and disappear. Ah, how many times have I closed my eyes and covered my ears against the wail of the sirens while sending my heart from the harbor on board one of those ships?


Carved around the tower of Vega
Which soars high into the night
Are tens of thousands of stars, each a cuneiform letter
- Who carved this and when, using a sapphire stylus how sharp?
These letters bestow their meaning to the desert and sea
Which sleep with closed eyes
Their meaning is quietly snatched
Like ice stealing bodily warmth
From Man who lives with eyes half-open
Pythagoras probably read these inscriptions
Shepherds probably read them too
And well as slaves rowing their masters' galleys
But inside the shining spire
Humanity smiles happily
Letting its meaning slip away
- Who built this and when, creating this purified void to the zenith of heaven?
We grow suspicious of the hushed, sanguine warmth of the body
That has failed to melt away completely into the crystal currents of air


I am planted in the earth
Happily, like a cabbage
Carefully peel away the layers of language
That clothe me and soon
It will become clear I am nowhere to be found
And yet even so, my roots lie beneath . . .

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