Yoko Danno


      This special moment
                  as if confined
                        in amber
            calm as in deep waters
                        before awakened 
                                   to my body 


      The eyes radiate
            tremors ripple through flesh
                              muscles tighten
            as I kick the springboard 
            a sigh of relief
            on a honeysuckle
            like a piece 
            of translucent 
            white cloth   


      The fear of flying resolves in the water
            where even a vertigo 



      On the riverside 
            wild pigeons come flying
                             from nowhere 
      I have nothing to feed them
            no crumbs, no seeds
                             no words 
      but watch them picking 
                  at edible gems 
                             among pebbles 


      Bird droppings contain
                  flower seeds      


       Feeling watched by numerous eyes 
                  I switched on a garden light ─ 
                  in full bloom
                        in bright purple!



      I’ve never dived into
            a vortex ─ to be in or out of it
                              is the wind’s will
      At the edge of an approaching typhoon 
            I soak in a hot spring bath 
                              as in death


      Ginkgo leaves scattered 
            as if spewed out of
                  a huge invisible ventilator 

                        a divine disturbance
            a sudden current of air swirls 
      round the high-rise building


       Storms are raging, the lines crossed ─ 
            here’s confusion for ten minutes
                                    or a millennium
                  by long-distance call ─

      Sunday morning/waves high/sons in the capsized 
      boat/ cries rising like bone dust/ a bomb bursts… 
      waves rough/ fingers severed/ a shard of glass 
      falling/ tattered bodies sinking to the… 


      The weird way the persistent sound 
            buzzing in my ears is threatening!

      Don’t worry about the evacuation warning!
            Today is the National Headache Day

      What’s going wrong? 

            One of the bitter cucumbers 
                  planted in my kitchen garden
                        wilting long before bearing fruit 
                  as if avoiding premature harvest


      The last candle in the kitchen 
            is about to be blown out 
                  by a draft through a crack

      The walls echo back
            moans of the wind
                  beating the downpour

      Outside it is blowing all day 
            while jam is made ─ kitchen 
                  flooded with orange scent 



      How far is it to the retreat? 

            The fog burnt off
                  hedges of clouds illumined
                              in the afterglow
            The sky pierced with pine needles 
                  the backpack weighs 
                              on my shoulders

            A warning on my smart phone: return 
            halfway from the way to the mountain 
            temple: you’d find only Hell paintings 
            on the walls of the ancient lecture hall 

      Ice crystals 
            refract the moonlight ─ 

                  a blackbird
                              a straggler
            stays alone 
                  in the deserted nest


      On a clear night like this
            even dark stars are visible
                              in the sky’s
      Morning after her childbirth  
                  stars are invisible 
                              in the cloudless

      Atmospheric tension released
            flower buds and sprouts breathe 
                              freely again

      My small garden covered with 
            fallen leaves, nymphs grow 


      White roses, withered
            clinging to the stem 
                        like wet paper tissues 

            lingering at the thin gateway 
                        to a vast generating 

Yoko Danno is Japanese and writes poetry solely in English. Her poems have appeared in various international poetry journals and anthologies. Her recent poetry books are Aquamarine (Glass Lyre Press, 2014), Woman in a Blue Robe (Isobar Press, 2016) and Further Center (Ikuta Press, 2017). The second edition of her translation, Songs and Stories of the Kojiki, a collection of creation myths, songs and historical narratives compiled in eighth-century Japan, was published by Red Moon Press in 2014. She lives in Kobe, Japan.

The poem above is the third part of a trilogy, the first two parts of which appeared in an earlier issue of Otoliths.
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