Thursday Nov 23

YotsumotoYasuhiro Yotsumoto Yasuhiro was born in Osaka in 1959, and was educated at Sophia University in Tokyo, and at the University of Pennsylvania. His first book of poetry was published in 1991.  In 1994 he moved to Germany, where he now lives. His 2002 book Sekai Chunen Kaigi (The World Congress of the Middle-Aged) was awarded a number of literary prizes, including the Yamamoto Kenkichi Prize. His 2004 volume of poetry Tsugumi no Gogo (Afternoon of Forbidden Words) won the Hagiwara Sakutaro Poetry Prize. In 2006, his poetry volume Tsuma no Ugen (Wife at Starboard) was published; this volume was preceded by his Selected Poems. His latest collection of verse is: Hijacking Logos, published in March 2010. Yotsumoto is also a well-known translator of poetry with published translations of Li Po, Dante and Emily Dickinson among others. He is active on the Internet with his well-known website: Poetry International Web
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LeithMorton Leith Morton has written 6 books of poetry, most recently Tokyo: A Poem in Four Chapters (2006). He is also the author of six volumes of translated Japanese poetry, including Shuntaro Tanikawa: Selected Poems (2006). His other books include Modern Japanese Culture: The Insider View (2003); Modernism in Practice: An Introduction to Postwar Japanese Poetry (2004); Yosano Akiko no ‘Midaregami’ o Eigo de Ajiwau (2007); and The Alien Within: Representations of the Exotic in Twentieth Century Japanese Literature (2009).
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夜中に目を醒ますと
 
となりにいるはずの妻がいない
はた機を織っているのだな
寝返りを打ちながらそう思う
階下の食卓か屋根裏部屋の長椅子で
風呂上がりの頭にタオルを巻きつけたバスローブ姿で
 
その夜織っていたのは何だったのだろう
遠く離れた親戚への手書きの便り
学校で使う衣装や小道具
匂いがしないから料理の下拵えではないみたいだ
 
糸はありふれたものばかり
だがそこに浮かび上がってくるのは
異教徒の街の、ねじ捩くれた尖塔からの眺めのような
見慣れない細密模様
 
羊皮と糞尿
些細な取引をめぐる
のっぴきならぬ烈しい応酬
朝夕の空にひびきわたるきりのない嘆きのような
戒律
 
覗きこむならば
忽ちにして滅びるだろうもうひとつの国へ
人は自分でも気づかぬままに
償いの旅をはじめる
 
重く引き摺るような妻の足音が階下からきこえる


Yonaka ni me o samasu
(Waking Up in the Middle of the Night)
 
My wife who should be beside me is not.
Doing some weaving, I suppose
These thoughts come to me tossing and turning in bed
On the dinner table downstairs or on the sofa in the attic
Just out of the bath, in a bathrobe, her hair wrapped in a towel
 
What was she weaving on that particular evening?
Composing by hand a letter to her distant relatives
Making costumes and props for school
Since there’s no smell, it seems she’s not preparing the ingredients of a meal
 
Thread is totally commonplace
But what emerges there
Is a strange elaborate pattern
Like the view from a crooked steeple in a pagan city
 
Sheepskin and excrement mixed with urine
An exchange violent and intense
About a trivial transaction
Commandments like an unending lamentation echo across the sky at dawn and dusk
 
If you peer into it
All will soon end; in another country
Without realizing it
People begin journeys of atonement
 
From downstairs I hear my wife’s lumbering footsteps
 
 
 
 
妻を読む
 
妻は言葉では書かれていないので
長編小説を朝までかかって
読みあげるようには
ゆかない
 
気になる詩の数行を
繰り返しなんども読み返すのとも
(似ているかもしれないが)違うだろう
 
昨日車を運転していたら
騒音の隙間から
一瞬鳥の羽ばたく音が聴こえて
あ、とぼくは思った
 
その〈あ〉も一瞬だが
読み解こうとすれば永遠がいる
まして妻は寝ても覚めてもぼくの目の前
 
ひとを読もうだなんて不遜だろうか
表情でも仕草でもなく
妻そのひとを
一生一緒に生きてゆくだけでは満足できずに
 
食卓越しに話しかけてくる妻
無言で寝返りをうつ妻
そこにいるのは
見えない妻に仕える忠実な侍女たちのよう
 
一息ごとに綴られる文章に
現実が句読点を打つ
吹き込んできた風に妻が捲(めく)られている
 
字面ではなく文体を捉えたい
妻からも自分からも遠く離れた静かな場所で
大気に雪の気配を嗅ぐ小枝のように
妻を読みたい
 

Tsuma o yomu
(Reading My Wife)
 
My wife is not composed of words so
I can’t
Read her
Like a long novel until dawn
 
Repeating lines from a poem I like
Reading them over and over again
(the two acts may well resemble each other) won’t work
 
When I was driving my car yesterday
In a gap in the noise
I heard a moment of birdwing beating
Ah, I thought
That ‘ah’ is also a moment and
If I try to analyze it, there lies eternity
After all whether asleep or awake my wife is right in front of me
 
Is it presumptuous to try to read someone?
Not an expression or gesture
I can’t be satisfied just with living my whole life through
With my wife
 
My wife who talks to me across the dinner table
Who tosses and turns in bed silently
As if she is the sum total of
All the maids faithfully serving the wife I cannot see
 
On text composed breath by breath
Reality writes annotations
Blown by the wind the pages of my wife turn
 
Not the shape of the letters: I want to capture the style
In a quiet place far removed from both my wife and myself
Like a twig scenting traces of snow in the air
I want to read my wife
 
 


寝返りをうって
 
寝返りをうって眼を覚ますと
目の前に妻が横たわって
涙を流していた
 
ぼくの会ったことのない彼女の顔見知りが
突然亡くなったのだ
その日の夕方食事をはさんで
妻から聞いた ぼくは
驚いてみたり訳知り顔に頷いたりもしたが
 
妻は今ただひとり自分だけのやり方で
そのひとを悼んでいる
黙ったまま境界まで歩いてゆき
途轍(とてつ)もなく巨きなものに手を触れているのがわかる
 
だれもそれに加わることはできない
深い淵の
はるか手前で
もう一度ぼくは寝返りをうつ
 

Negaeri o utte
(Tossing and Turning)
 
Turning over in bed, I open my eyes and
I see my wife stretched out in front of me
Weeping
 
An acquaintance of hers I have never met
Suddenly died
That evening during dinner
She told me.  I
Showed my surprise and nodded my I-know-how-it-is look
 
By herself and in her own way my wife
Is mourning that person
I realize that she is walking towards a border not uttering a word
Her hands touching something absurdly massive
 
No one can be with her
Here, far removed from
Her deep hole
In bed I turn away from her



 
 
からだ
 
時とともに
やわらかになってゆく
そしてわずかに
ひんやりと
 
首筋
肩から肘へ
あんなに好きだった
 
唇が
少しずつ
剥がれてゆく
 
ほぐされて 鞣されて
枝に吊るされて
揺れる
 
乳房と塊
 
一晩中ずっと聞こえていた川の音が
明け方ふいに昂まる
曳かれてゆく生贄(いけにえ)が 血の
匂いに気づいて
 
立ち止まり
岩のように 固く
 
おおきくなる
ほら、
さわって


Karada
(Body)
 
As time passes
It becomes increasingly softer
And then slightly
Cold
 
Cheeks
Neck
From shoulder to elbow
The lips
I loved so much
Bit by bit
Begin to peel
 
 
Softened   tanned
Hanging on a branch
Swaying
 
Breasts and the soul
 
The noise of the river I’ve been hearing all night
At dawn suddenly swells
Hauled up, the sacrifice becomes
Aware of the smell of blood
Frozen to the spot
Hard   like a rock
 
Grows big
See:
Go ahead and touch it