from “White Bird from the Faucet” by Ura Kanako / 『蛇口から白い小鳥』 浦歌無子

Lily of the valley, peony, clematis, columbine, rambling rose, miyako-wasure
spiderwort, water lily, coral bells, iris, red poppy, hollyhock
gardenia, salvia, liatris, veronica, lantana, marigold
I picked them all and made a garland for my sister
but I couldn’t find her anywhere
When I picked them they sounded like small bird bones breaking
I put them in my mouth, caressed them with my tongue and swallowed them
Each one tasted different and I couldn’t get enough
so I kept digging up little bird graves
I dug holes all over the garden
dug up more and more little bird graves
and stuffed their little white bones in my mouth
The sound of them rattling in my mouth was so very strange
I ran around in circles and fell into a deep hole
and I haven’t been able to sleep ever since
(I wanted to chime my sister like a music box
I wanted to chime my speechless sister like a music box)

* * *

鈴蘭 芍薬 クレマチス オダマキ 蔓薔薇 ミヤコワスレ
露草 睡蓮 ツボサンゴ アヤメ 雛罌粟 タチアオイ
梔子 サルビア リアトリス ベロニカ ランタナ マリーゴールド


March Disappearance by Ura Kanako (三月の失踪 / 浦歌無子)

My older brother choked on the scales of a swallowtail butterfly
and died just like that
My older sister kept eating little bird’s eggs and now her heart
is completely spoiled
My little sister is afflicted with a hunger for purple violets
And you haven’t even heard the half of it
My dead brother ties the chrysalises that continue to multiply in his esophagus to an optical line
and sits facing a rainbow-colored box, solving a crossword puzzle
My spoiled older sister is pregnant with a liquid crystal canary
and has signed over all of her property
My little sister absentmindedly squeezes purple juice
and stores it in a secret folder
My brother, typing on the keyboard with his melting fingertips,
asks us for the answer to the puzzle
“What’s a flower that’s purple, ends in a ‘t,’
blooms in the spring and is six letters long?”
My older sister’s newborn canary was made of rock and it couldn’t even sing,
so she keeps giving birth to countless passwords
My little sister, in a voice hoarse with fever,
says “violet” in answer to my brother’s question
“Application error.
To terminate the program click OK”
Connected to the internet, my brother’s
organs, muscles, nerves, even his bodily fluids, are deleted
“Incorrect password.
If you have forgotten your password answer the secret question”
My older sister keeps clicking Help, but her security is disabled
and her profile is gradually becoming faint
My sweet little sister drinks violets, one spoonful, two spoonfuls
Purple drips from her lips, and again
one spoonful, two spoonfuls
Like a rabbit killed with a shotgun,
little purple drops
spread all over my sister’s body
Down to her heart she is becoming a flower, a flower, a flower
My little sister wishes to be eaten by skylarks in March
Her skylarks cry “violet violet”
as they fly around inside the hard drive
A purple virus, one spoonful, two spoonfuls
(I remember I remember)
“Logging in”
My brother, who has turned to bones,
inputs search options in my head and links to my brain
My older sister, who has turned invisible,
sends my compressed limbs all over the world
My sweet little sister is a violet
Her eyeballs, earlobes, collarbone, the soles of her feet, and even her ankles,
have all blossomed into violets
The violets are being copied and pasted in my cells as purple flower images
“The document has been changed. Do you want to save the changes?”
The violets that were blooming in that little garden,
was that not my own memory?
That little garden where all of us played together,
was that not my own memory?
My older brother, my older sister, my little sister,
were they never really there?
“If you are not a real person click here.”
“Logging out.”
“Welcome, Guest.”

I no longer exist anywhere


Ura Kanako is a poet from Fukuoka. Her first book of poetry, The Lake in My Ears (耳のなかの湖, 2009), was nominated for the Nakahara Chuya Award.

The original Japanese language poem can be found at ポエムコンシェルジュとさがす詩の世界.