Yoko Danno


on a moonlit night
the child alone
is playing hopscotch,

by the game, not knowing
it's past time to go home⎯each time

she kicks the cobblestone
over a line chalked on the street,
she remembers her grandmother saying,

when you travel to a foreign country
you must cross a border.
when you step into a new land

you'll be relieved,
to find an image of yourself,
the one you abandoned in a mirror⎯

the child keeps breaking
through the white line,
her shadow hopping behind her

like a twin⎯grandma, every
new line leads me to another!


new:                not existing before
                        in the space
                        between eyebrows, the deep
                                     round well
                                               glistening at the bottom

last quarter:     his bow drawn
                        to its full
                        extent, way out of orbit            
                                     the arrow
                                              disappears in a flash

full:                  beyond her usual
                        she passes out of reach            
                                  of our eyes  
                                       fading out fixed stars

first quarter:     moving slowly                 
                        each day the luminous         
                                        swelling to a whole

new:                yin and yang
                        in the golden bowl                      
                                          a handful of seed dust


yesterday the house was empty⎯

                rustled the carpet
                                           of dry sedge grass,
                 streaming through
                                           a cleft of the shingled roof,

      pale grey mist
                      hovered on the lake
                                           hiding incessant ripples⎯

bamboo leaves
            in the blink of a star's

white feathers
                      the weaver at her loom
                                           keeps weaving,

              i want
                             a clear sky,
       so he
              may wade
                                           across the milky river.

the earth fleeting
               under their feet,
golden dust of the sun
            swirling in each other's

at dawn today⎯

                           with dew,


they depart,
                   each heading
                                       for the next
                                                          growing season.


a wind is blowing
          from the caribbean sea,
                                                                a singer sings sweetly,

on our way home my little girl found a bird,
eyes closed in the wayside shrubbery⎯
i picked it up and felt it barely breathing,
the feathers soft, ash-green, on my palm⎯

a woman is
                  a rough sea
                                    quiet down below,
                                                                she lifts her voice,

the fish jumped off the cutting board,
flopping around on the wooden floor.
with a knife in my hand, frozen, i watched
until the headless carp calmed down⎯

a woman is
                  a turbulent reflection
                                of the rumbling sky,
                                                               the singer softly groans,

the sun glazing the parched fields,
the woman wailed like a wounded animal
that had lost its young, and went out
for food, water and a mate⎯

a woman is always
                                                              the voice is whispering,

we put out to sea⎯my little girl sets free
the tiniest of the three fish she caught,
and we eat the rest to celebrate her birthday⎯

a wind is blowing
                           on the blue-green sea,
                                                                we breathe in,
                                        blow into paper balloons,
                                                                      and let them go.   


past the point of no return,
our jet trails
sparkling white claw marks⎯

     last night a burglar tore
          a page from my unraveled
               mystery book,

     "how can you find
          a flower blooming
               in an icy lake?"
                                  the missing page says⎯

     the moment
          a hand touches a hand,
               palm to palm,
                    skin to skin     
                         under clear fresh water,

         vapor rises
              from soft wet leaves,
                   condenses into
                        a blue orchid . . . freezes . . .

as we fly higher
through air stratums
to the home of the stars
the temperature falls.

not even a blanket,
nor the heat of blood circulating
through a polar bear scratching the air
can melt the flower in ice.

Yoko Danno
Yoko Danno was born, raised, and educated in Japan.  A graduate of Kobe College, she has been writing poetry solely in English for more than 40 years.  In addition to being a poet, she is also a playwright, translator, and the editor-in-chief of the Ikuta Press in Kobe, Japan.  Her poetry has been published in various journals, anthologies, and magazines in the US, Canada, and Japan, and she is the author of four books of poetry, including Epitaph for Memories published in 2002 by the Bunny and Crocodile Press.  Her fifth book of poetry⎯a jointly-written poetic experiment with the American poet James C. Hopkins, entitled The Blue Door⎯will be published in May of 2006 by The Word Works press in Washington, DC.



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