translated by Miryam Sas
Reprinted with permission from M. Sas, Fault Lines: Cultural Memory and Japanese Surrealism, Stanford University Press, 2001
The shade in the rose-colored covered wagon rocks the window curtain facing out on the park. It was exactly a small heart. In the middle of the green barley field it stopped suddenly, and then, like a hand that touched the window curtain, like a Dutch wall clock, like something one remembers, it began to move, the white fingertips joined as if in prayer, although in the hall of the mansion a bottle with a delicate colored pattern collapsed under the weight of fragrant flowers… Ah, there is the dear familiar tree of grandmother, thrusting its dull lead-colored cane. — I lay a book called Green Garden face down on my knees. (A young composer died on just such an afternoon.) A stone staircase begins to dream. A faint cloud. That was also a small bird with cool feathers like the ice that still continued to sleep. — As I descend this staircase to the lawn, a splendid rite of spring is being performed at the lower reaches of the blue stream, a repainting of the paint on the bottom of a ship.
Dreams, wrapped around people like capes, blow in the wind — happiness opens pupils, and one can hear the gentle voice of conversation here and there. In the end, all hearts like mirrors slid down. Between the lace threads of wind that untied themselves and wrapped around every tree trunk, people, imitating birds, continue to come and go in little mincing motions under the blue silk sky. The pigeon that flies out of a cloud, the watering can in the thicket, and the rattan chairs in the shadow of the trees — soon dusk rose from these, and the glistening leaves began to appear, jostling one another. But all we can hear at the moment is the sound of their touching one another, like silver coins.
Lurking in the shade of scales lit up with summer
BIOS: Miryam Sas is Associate Professor of Comparative Literature and Film Studies at UC Berkeley. She is the author of Fault Lines: Cultural Memory and Japanese Surrealism (Stanford University Press, released in 2001) and is completing a second book about postwar Japanese performance. She has recently published essays about Japanese Futurism, Butoh dance, and American contemporary theater.
Ema Shôko was born in 1913 in Niigata Prefecture. One of the few women to be active as a poet in the pre-war period, she was associated with Kitasono Katue and the Japanese avant-garde poetry community. Her work was featured in many influential journals of the time, including VOU , Madame Blanche , Shinryodo and Shi to shiron , and her first poetry collection, Haru e no shôtai (Invitation to spring), was published by the Tokyo VOU Club in 1936. Her Collected Poems was published by Hôubunkan in 1999.