translated by Sawako Nakayasu
From Sagawa Chika Zenshishû (Collected Works of Sagawa Chika)
Insects multiplied with the speed of an electric current.
Lapped up the boils on the earth's crust.
Turning over its exquisite costume, the urban night slept like a woman.
Now I hang my shell out to dry.
My scaly skin is cold like metal.
No one knows this secret half-covering my face.
The night makes the bruised woman, freely twirling her stolen expression, go mad with joy.
In the morning I see several friends escaping from the window.
Temptation of the green insect. In the orchard a woman stripped of her socks is murdered. Morning, sporting a silk hat, follows along from behind the orchard. Carrying a newspaper printed in green.
I, too, must finally get off the hill.
The city cafés are beautiful glass spheres, and a troop of men have drowned in wheat-colored liquid.
Their clothing spreads in the liquid.
Madam with the monocle tears off her last hunk of bread and hurls it at them.
Because the phone rang suddenly the villagers were surprised.
So does this mean that we must relocate.
The village mayor panicked and removed his blue jacket.
Yes, mother's allowance chart was indeed correct.
So long, blue village! The summer, again, chased after them like a river.
The rooster with the red chapeau disembarked at a deserted station.
Hazy blue dusk scales the window.
A lamp dangles like the neck of a woman.
Blackened air permeates the room — a single blanket is spread.
The books, ink, and rusty knife seem to gradually be stealing the life out of me.
While everything sneered,
The night was already in my hand.
The blue horse
A horse came tearing down the mountain and went mad. From that day on she eats blue food. Summer dyes blue the women's eyes and sleeves, and then whirls merrily in the town square.
The customers on the terrace smoke so many cigarettes that the tinny sky scribbles rings in the ladies' hair.
Sad memories should be thrown out like a handkerchief. If only I could forget the love and regret
and the patent leather shoes!
I was saved from having to jump from the second floor.
The sea rises to the heavens.
Transparency of one acacia leaf
Month of May angels who toss their clothes there legs dirtied green
Smiles that chase me memory, a swan's neck, glimmers in front of her
Now where has the truth gone
Birdsong congealed by evening mist pictures of trees printed on the walls of the sky a green wind gently flicks them off
Pleasure is on that side of death calling from that side of the earth
For example witness the sun, grown heavy, dropping towards the blue sky
Run! My heart
Become a sphere at her side
And then in a teacup
— A layered love it makes us miserable
The furrows of milk quaver, my dream rises
Autumn, sick with yellow fever, is the Arabian script staggering on the windowpane.
All time goes to and fro here,
Carrying their vanity and music.
Clouds burn such things as the thinking of a rooster, or amaranth.
Fingers tap the air above the keyboard.
The music rings like a wail, then drifts off.
Another faded day remains,
A crowd of death lays stagnant.
People carefully pass along love, held between glass wings, which the sun destroys on the street corner.
The sky stands facing the window, darkening as the ventilator turns.
Leaves are in the sky, drawing a single line, the rooftops leaning in.
Trains crawl along the bulging street, the sailor's collar rotating between the blue creases of the sky.
The dressed up lines of summer pass by and crumble into the flask.
The fruits of our hearts rain happy shadows.
A fence dirtied by dust continues,
Leaves turn from red to yellow.
Recollections accumulate upon the path of memory. As if spreading white linen.
Seasons have four keys, slide down the stairs. The entrance is shut again.
The blue tree is hollow. When hit, it sounds.
While the night sneaks out.
I am as sad as the skin of the boy in the sky.
Eternity cuts between us.
I lose countless images to that other side.
Illusion of home
A chef clutches the blue sky. Four fingerprints are left; gradually the chicken bleeds. Here, too, the sun collapses.
Inquiring wardens of the sky. I see the daylight take off.
Empty white house where no one lives.
The long dreams of people encircle this house many times over, only to wilt like flower petals.
Death gently clings to my finger. Peels off the layers of night one by one.
This house continues the brilliant road to the distant memory of a distant world.
Ocean of memory
Hair disheveled, chest splayed out, a madwoman streels.
A crowd of white words crumbles upon the crepuscular ocean.
A torn accordion,
a white horse and black horse storm across over it, frothing.
White and black
A white arrow runs. The nightbird is shot down, dives into my pupil.
Incessantly obstructing the sleep of figs.
Silence prefers to come to rest in my room.
They were the shadows from candles, a pot of plucked primula, mahogany chairs. Time and flames tangle together, as I watch over them planing the circumference of the window.
Oh, the black-faced man comes again today in the rain,
Slaps around the garden in my heart, and runs.
O rain, which comes in boots,
Must you trample the earth all the night through.
Reality disintegrating only in naked midday light. All ash trees are white bones. She is unable to explain with her back to the clear window. However, her ring replicates its reflection time after time. Gorgeous stained glass, superficial time. Then they will detour around the house and choose a busier street. Dark sweaty leaf. The wind above it limps and cannot move. While rejecting the illusion of darkness, I understand. The mistrust between people. Outside, a salty air stirs the spirit.
From the morning balcony rushing in like a wave
flooding all over the place
I nearly drown upon a mountain path
and choke, many times bracing myself from falling forward
The city in my vision opens and closes, making my dreams spin
and in its pursuit, the men nearly collapse with tremendous force
I am abandoned
Like a cloud
Insects pierce green through the orchard
crawl the undersides of leaves
Mucous expelled from nostrils
may seem like blue mist falling.
At times, they
without a sound flutter and vanish into the sky.
The ladies, always with an irritated look in their eyes
gather the unripe fruit.
Countless scars are attached to the sky.
Hanging like elbows.
And then I see,
the orchard cleaving from the center.
A bare patch emerges there, burning like a cloud.
BIOS: Sagawa Chika (real name Kawasaki Aiko) was born in 1911 in Hokkaido, Japan. Through the encouragement and connections of her brother, Kawasaki Noboru, a poet and editor himself, she became a member of the lively community surrounding Kitasono Katue, and was highly esteemed by many of her contemporaries. Stomach cancer took her life at the age of 25, at which point her poems were collected and edited by Itô Sei and published (Sagawa Chika Shishû (Collected Poems of Sagawa Chika), Shôrinsha, 1936). Later a more complete collected works — including her prose, in memoriam writings from poets, and a complete bibliography — was published as Sagawa Chika Zenshishû (Collected Works of Sagawa Chika) by Shinkaisha in 1983.
Sawako Nakayasu writes poetry, prose, and performance text, and translates from Japanese to English. Her first book, So we have been given time Or , was selected for the 2003 Verse Prize and will be published in 2004. Other works include Clutch (Tinfish chapbook, 2002), Balconic (Duration e-book, 2003:) and Nothing fictional but accuracy or arrangement (she (e-Faux, 2003:). She edits Factorial Press, and can be contacted at email@example.com
table of contents