Poem of the Month – September 2020

Tokyo

—From The Coroner’s Wife, by Joan Hambidge, translation by Charl JF Cilliers

One morning I stood in the fish market watching
the tuna, nori and aji on display.
A practised fisherman, in yellow rubber boots,
gutted a fish with a single stroke, its mouth agape.
From the stomach, entrails spewed
amidst a bloody stench. Also memories
from a deep-sea existence completely cut off
from earthquakes and bombs raining down.
He does not know Mt Fuji, and a light snowfall
(like soft down over the ocean) remains an oddity.
Edu’s air pollution has never troubled him.
Once, he was a fish darting through water.
Now he is placed on ice for sashimi.
Before long he will end up in the ocean again,
piecemeal – altogether a non-fish –
travelling from hand to mouth: to human waste.

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