Three Early Poems

Kazuko Shiraishi

By the Hudson River

from whom was I born
from a bed     from a hard bed

as though a flesh with bone dropped from a dog’s mouth
I was dropped

my parents are round
and smooth like a moon
and had human faces as well
and had a human smell

had a smell of darkness
a smell of a silent woods

that’s all     in New York
by the Hudson river

I am standing

I am the same as     this river

I am the same as     this river

too wide to measure     the breadth of your chest
too far to measure     your memory

I don’t have to go back     to the time I was born
my memory
both my destination and now     drift in my mind
even I     cannot measure

by the Hudson river
a curly-haired
black-faced child
lean with large eyes     when I

laugh     as though crying
my face breaks     and begins to shake

when I sing     I do a sinuous
dance     as though the world     exists in my hips

my name is Billy
I don’t know my name in the past
I don’t know     the sky I was born in
what tree it was     or if I had leaves of brothers     or not
I don’t know the stable     I was born in
was it a straw bed     or a wood bed

nevertheless     I was like
the cheeks of  a grown fruit
at the fruit shop
while I was looking at fruits I cannot buy

at a butcher shop
while I was watching a pig leg     being cut off

by the Hudson river
I stand now     alone

carrying myself a little grown-up
my grandma     grandpa
my dear love     the Hudson river

I     will go floating     with the river
with the big flowing Hudson     in my mind
with the Hudson that flows with me     in my mind


Bye Bye Blackbird
it is not that
several hundred birds     several thousand birds fly away
always what flies away is one bird
from my inside
dangling my ugly internal organs
every time I get pregnant with you
I lose my sight     inside blindness
I live sniffing the world
when I lose you     I see you for the first time
but at that moment     my up to now dies
and life in a new blindness begins to move

Bye Bye Blackbird
he sings on the stage transforming into one bird
his audience chases his bird     becoming several tens of thousands of ears
at that time     the audience is the blind wings of several hundred thousand
the audience who cannot see     flapping their wings
becomes a ghost of a bird
and chasing the voice of one bird on the stage
dances over the seats in the dark
but  I wonder if anyone can tell     which one is not a ghost
but a real bird     again
Bye Bye Blackbird
he who is singing cannot tell either
what is it     that truly flies away from here
just     he is singing wildly     and feels
that now in which something is flying away     is certain
it may be his velvety time
it may be the extremely soft sirloin of his soul
or it may be the star memory of his guilty crime
or it may be warm blood
that splashes from the tulip-shaped brain of a child sitting in the front row

Bye Bye Blackbird
I am a bird
whether I refuse myself
or accept myself
as long as I cannot snatch away
this pointed beak that does not stop pecking
and the wings that have a flapping habit
today     I am a bird
I become a prayer     and a bird     several times a day     piercing the sky
and thrust out of the sky and fall
or internal organs that carry a falling bird
inside me     there are these giant birds that fall down
small birds     from a lean and old bird     to an arrogant
and sweet bird
and some are half-alive and groaning
I give funerals to these birds as my daily task
on the other hand
I warm the eggs of future birds as my daily task
the stranger the bird which bites off the future 
the more I love and desperately warm its eggs
Bye Bye Blackbird
I am thinking of becoming a strange bird
and try making the one that eats me up fly away
really I must make that one fly away     to the point blood gushes out
elegantly     singing
Bye Bye Blackbird

A Person Dies

a person dies
who died?
my mother died
Ikuya said

a dog cries at the back     says I am hungry
a man cries at the front     says I do not want to part
but     in April the cherry blossoms
snow     suddenly     falls
a person dies
one person parts from another person

Kaoru says
p l e a s e
the beer she bought for us
filled with     scattered golden tears
how     merry
tonight’s     vigil is

then after a meal
we went out to dance
men were getting drunk from the lower half of the body
but     I do not get drunk
between the drunk lower half of my body     and the not drunk upper half of my body
I listen to Autis
the dead do not get drunk
to watch     a person dying
one does not get drunk either

but     a dog is different
when it says I am hungry
I will give it     ample food
also     to a living human being
I do not give food in a half-hearted way
but when a person dies
I will offer     a little
a token of a condolence money
counting what I have in my wallet
and keeping some for tonight’s meal

a person dies
it is April so
in the kitchen     the smell of boiling new potatoes
the green flame     of the spinach
the appetite vigorously and quietly growing
the desire for sex
and     a person dies     really
Ikuya’s     mother     completely
has disappeared

translated from the Japanese by Yumiko Tsumura