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Prairie Schooner 79.4 (2005) 153-156

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Harmful, Harmless, and: The Deaf Dalmatian, and: Aubade

Harmful, Harmless

Things are classified by the amount of harm
they contain, according to Katie
who wears only pastel like an exotic melon.
Under the shade, the dove-grey iris of her eye
deepens while I pose:
I am her model this afternoon and beyond –
which crushes the gills of inky caps
dissolved overnight there,
and elsewhere. By the time
she pincettes a photograph in her dark room,
this world will be leaf-thin, drained of all pigments
save the ink of melting mushroom,
and I will be putting the toxic berries into
my mouth though their red won't show.

The Deaf Dalmatian

After an hour of walking around the lake,
I nearly fainted. Lying on the sofa now,
I'm not sure if it was really you
I walked with. All I can remember is
your dumb Dalmatian. For the longest time,
I believed her deafness was caused
by the dark spots on her skin,
which seemed to wiggle and multiply [End Page 153]
whenever we felt uneasy about the weather,
or with each other along the mossy path.
It was our third tour around the myth-ridden lake;
you did not propose to me.
While those dots kept on covering your dog
like blurred constellations, we smelled mud,
mildewed leaves, and a few mushrooms crushed
under the feet of unconscientious joggers.

I didn't tell you
I was afraid of your dog, or that
my period had just started.
Once inside the house, my breath is still white;
from the kitchen, a sound of you fragmenting
earth-black Dutch chocolate
to increase my blood sugar.
As I doze on the sofa,
flaming beads continue to trickle down
through my hollowness and chill.
A nightmare might be shaped like a pomegranate
my frozen fingers break into.
Until now, I didn't know my body could turn itself
into a complete hourglass –
how quietly, uselessly, these bright seeds pass. [End Page 154]


Run as the horizon bleeds gold
a jar of marmalade just shattered
inside your sister's eyes, your favorite

cat, she wants to step on your waist,
crush your clavicles, and throw out
your adult drink, dandelion-yellow

sparking mercurial beads glass after
glass; she has given up human speech
her incessant failures in trained desire,

she will needle her way through
your reason as a ray of madness,
unforgiveness and strange gratitude

without ever turning her face; let her
go, remember the public garden
in Montmartre, a sheer wildness kept

on purpose no one would explain why, but
truly, you should have known all along
such space is a necessity for your

survival – tumbleweed, your anger
being fucked away from your country,
your ever-thinning bones a skeleton

of glassy latticework; two opposing tongues
your grid of nervousness, your sister's
marigold tail points at your sweetness [End Page 155]

without integrity, you have known
all along – let her go, she will tear
your nightmares, their thick fabric, a confused

murmur of foreign voices, she will not
relent, she will remain untamed, desirous,
will not learn to translate, will learn nothing –

Go, with your mouth bleeding bitter gold honey
your sister's now blind lens, sensuous dream;
Listen: you need not forgive, never starve.

Miho Nonaka is a bilingual writer born and raised in Tokyo, Japan. Her first book of Japanese poetry was a finalist for Japan's National Poetry Prize. Her poems have been published or are forthcoming in Quarterly West, Drunken Boat, and Crab Orchard Review.



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