Coquettish Glances

BY KIJI KUTANI

No doubt about it,

the inside of a train

cooks things to a turn.

The bald head

of that fellow sitting beside me

and the slender, wobbly legs

of the little girl catty-corner from me on the right

simmered to a juicy pulp,

dissolved in sunlight

slanting through the windows

and spilled along the floor at a crawl,

slower than a walk.

The one holdout is

the young woman

sitting directly across from me

holding on tight

to an angular package wrapped in a bright red bandanna.

Every now and then she crosses and re-crosses her legs in various ways —

legs that might stay smooth and white

however much you peeled them —

eyeing me all the while.

Her two eyeballs

protruding

from an expression of no apparent temperature

are on the verge of pouring melted light

into every crevice in my swaying body.

(I mustn’t fall for it)

That’s no look of invitation,

but proof she’s cooked up tender on the bone,

eyes first. There —

the moment the train pulled into Koiwa,

she turned soundlessly into a translucent morsel

and came sliding towards my feet

at a snail’s pace.

 

 

Japan, 1984 -

Translation: Juliet Winters Carpenter

 

Originally in Japanese from: Hirumo Yorumo

Publisher: midnight press, Tokyo, 2003

 

Translation from: Day and Night

Publisher: Yamaguchi City, Yamaguchi, 2005

Web source: Poetry International