Tomoyuki Iino & Jon Silkin

from the Japanese of Mikiro Sasaki


I want to become an ox
That bears a sack of salt
In a shower of thunder.
I want to become a mid-winter cow
That climbs the cliff of a dry steep mountain
With a grating back-bone.
I wade the river burning silver,
Go down the scale-shape waterfall
And see a frozen shore
Beyond the mountain road no one knows,
Beyond the lightly shuddering snow.
At the road's end it's always
The indigo lake where
Morning brims a noisy mist and
The sound of hooves echoes in the sky.
Ruminating in its seven stomachs
A ghost with horns
Grazes on the grass ghosts.
To drown
To die there,
And to sink, having fed on too many ghosts,
Under ice with its horns.
Rubbing its back on the mountain
In which ancient strata rise, the ghost moves
Its lower lip still to eat
The ghost of the wind.
Having gone too far past
The seven mazes, the ghost is now bone ash.
From the sky over the valley
Salt-scented snow falls.

Tomoyuki Iino Index