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  • Selected Poems by Mizuta Noriko
  • Translated by Jordan A. Y. Smith (bio)

The Yamanba's Dream

In a closed away gardenA bird sang outA butterfly circled the space between flowersAnd I, as a poet once did,Sang to myself,"All's right with the world!"

Higher than a rampartAsh trees stretch their leafy branchesBanksia rosesSpend their last covering gaps in the hedgesThis is a small paradiseLet's take a nice napNo oneWill come pushing their way through the wall of thorns

Swept pure     sunlight streams downA safe placeIn the corner a deep well stands coveredI have finally managed to arriveWalking along the banks of a waterless riverStealthily     Though, as a landmarkTrailing shreds of memories as I went [End Page 248] Neither killers nor princes will enterA miniature of Mother Nature itselfI am ruler of this small spaceDon't strain to listen to the water's soundNow I will keep watchOver this eternal early afternoon

    Burn scars on arms flashed boldly,    A woman naps    This life on the riverside the children glared at as an enemy    I searched for the whereabouts of the hagoromo    Camped out in the tent on the shore    Staving off starvation by eating the native snakes    The sounds deep in my ears    I harmonized with the winds high above    Circling the mountain range jutting from my dream tableau    Now     This large woman with body relaxed    Like the evening horizon     Directly over the line between time zones    Limitless    Reposes on her side

The crows have eaten up the scraps of memoryThe well long since gone dryWhen I wake from the napI'll sweep the garden once moreTodaySince I cannot hope to see the sunsetLet's close the gate early

(July 7, 2004)

from The Road Home (Kiro, 2008) [End Page 249]


I ate an appleThe apple of legendAnd because I ate itEnded up meeting youIt took more than I hadTo chew it upIn this holeCoffin-likeThough I've been long awaitingThe one who will come to greet meThat small boat gliding through the forestThe one who gave me the appleThe one with such maliceLike radiationCirculating through the area,No one draws nearNo one peers into the holeThe appleAs yet round as everInside my bodyIs waitingTo dissolve—For acidity to overtake it—

from Sea of Blue Algae (Aoi mo no umi, 2013) [End Page 250]


Rapidly growing heavierThat's how muchTime has passedThe insides of my stomachStuffed with rocksAt first it was red applesNo gastric fluids flowingIn this parched caveGray piled on grayAll an indistinguishableMass of rockNo longer able to move my bodyTo get out of hereI will have to split my stomachAnd then the boxOutside thatA deep bramble forestIf I can escape from thatA white plain     A white sunA distant long-agoUtopiaOr a detourOr simply some prankAh, I've been here so longThe woodcutter never cameNo magic spell of salvationWhat slipped from my lipsWas that odorless, dreadful wind.Was she still there,Bearing colorless fossilized applesFree of poisonLong journeyInfinite pages of sandHow many ashen lumpsCan I go on carrying,Not just my shareBut theirs too? [End Page 251] Is there nothing to smash it with?This longAnti-monogatari,Its gravity

from Sea of Blue Algae (Aoi mo no umi, 2013) [End Page 252]

To the Boat

In the wall of algae, I opened a holeAnd peeked outsideA blue kelp forest spread before meThough I've been so protectedI've become so lostNever reached the bottomHeavy and light Sinking and floatingNot nightNot dayWon't you just choose one?Suddenly, bringing me hereFor this surprise attackMelancholicBlue algae labyrinthIsn't there some path?Limits of a wandering lost childConfined to a single placeI...


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