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ON THE LAST PERFORMANCE OF MUSUMÉ DOJOJI AT THE NIPPON-KAN OF THE ASTOR HOTEL, SEATTLE WASHINGTON / Garrett Kaoru Hongo Something still remains from the fall of '41, in the theater of the Astor Hotel, behind its windows shuttered with planking. It's in the floorboards, in the stack of old programs yellowing in the sanctuary of a backstage dressing room, and a photograph of the cast curled and peeling loose from its paper. The bouquet of mauve and violet chrysanthemums the thin butcher brought for the girl who danced the legend of Musumé Dojoji and which she forgot on the mirror-stand beside an open tray of greasepaint has withered and turned to a handful of blue powder drifting and about to scatter in the draught from the opened stage-door. When he enters, picking his way past the pile of broken chairs stacked under the balcony's overhang, he lights a match and makes a lantern with the cupped shrine of his hands and guides himself by the flare of its yellow light. Dust-devils bloom under his shoes, roll away in a chorus of shadows that swirl into life, die into nothing as he approaches the stage. The Missouri Review · 11 He hums something from Brahms, or maybe a tune he picked up in a piano bar on King Street, late at night, drinking saké with friends after the Festival for the Dead, and it's better now because he's gotten up the steps downstage, stands facing the cinderblock wall scarred with an arcana of names, dates, fugitive and hostile messages that no one cared to erase. This is okay, he says to himself, this doesn't mean any more than MIMOSA IZUMI—1938, than SANFORD HAYASE KISSES ASS, than JAPTOWN IS MY TOWN CHINA STAY OUT; and the dead don't mind that he's never washed a gravestone or left flowers or lit incense and paid for a priest to chant when it might have mattered. A flute whistles, someone's hand slaps at the tuned hide of a kotsuzumi, and voices strum through the walls in the harmonies of a new adagio rolling out from everything he never knew of the past and all its privacy. She glides on slippers of blue silk, stepping from behind the flag of damask that curtains the theater's far wing. Her hair trails behind her, spilling over the white blaze of her neck and down the folds of her robe in a long tangle across the stage. Something howls in his throat, choirs like memory as she snakes out of her gown and stands before him, naked as the matchflame flickering out under the warm breath of a word. 12 ¦ The Missouri Review Garrett Kaoru Hongo ...


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