FROM THE “GIRL” TO THE “FIRE”
REPUBLISHED TEXT: The poem SNAFU by Toshiko Hirata. It was found at “Other side river: free verse, edited and translated by Lisa Lowitz and Miyuki Aoyama, Contemporary Japanese Women’s poetry, volume 2 / “The Rock Spring collection of Japanese literature” published by Stone Bridge Press, 1995.
• the photo A girl, she is 100% by Giannis Drakoulidis is linked to the word “girl”
• The poem April Miniatures by Antonis Katsouris is linked to the word “April”
• the photo Tell Me How Beautiful They Are When You Wake Up by Dimitra Ioannou is linked to the word “evidence”
• the photo Abiquiu by Misha de Ridder is linked to the word “fire”
Basically, there are no clocks in this room. Basically, there are no days or months. The temperature is a non temperature and you, well I don’t know where you are. I am in SNAFU (Situation Normal, All Fucked Up).
aglimpseof 08 republishes the poem “SNAFU” by contemporary poet Toshiko Hirata. The poem was found at “Other side river: free verse, edited and translated by Lisa Lowitz ans Miyuki Aoyama, Contemporary Japanese Women’s poetry, volume 2 / “The Rock Spring collection of Japanese literature” published by Stone Bridge Press, 1995. You can find more poems by Toshiko Hirata at: http://www.asu.edu/pipercwcenter/how2journal/archive/online_archive/v2_3_2005/current/translation/toshiko.htm
by Toshiko Hirata
Basically, there are seven clocks in this room. Each hand points in its respective direction. Each hand points to respective numbers. One hand points to 1:10 a.m. Another points to 1:15. Another to 1:21. Another to 1:13. One to 1:02 and still another to 1:15. I’m thinking oh, this clock says the same time as the other one did, but the one that pointed to 1:15 at first nows points to 1:17. One of them points 6:45. I’m not sure if it is 6:00 a.m. or 6:00 p.m. It is a clock whose batteries wore out several years ago. The clock died at 6:45. I can’t rely on the dead clock’s time. I’m going to disregard the time on the dead clock’s face.
There are seven clocks and if six are still alive, it is somewhere between 1:02 a.m. and 1:21 a.m. now. I wonder if 1:02 and 1:21 are the same time. What is the difference between them? The difference is not easily explained. What is obvious is that you are not here now.
In other words, you are not here. You are in the not-with of this room. Where are you? There are four calendars in this room. Three of them say it is the 6th and one of them says it is the 7th. Which doesn’t mean that it is the 6th and not the 7th. After all, the date is not determined by majority rule. Furthermore, I am the one who is in charge of changing the desks pads daily. What I do is not always right. I am often wrong. There is evidence of this in that one of the pages dated the 6th is a Monday, while another is a Wednesday and the last is a Saturday. I wish it were Saturday today. Saturdays and Sundays are when I don’t have to ride the subway and go up to the 13th floor of the office building. I’ m scared to go into the building. I’m scared to go to the elevator because it is possessed, maybe by the devils. It is often jammed by the possessors playing tricks on us.
I wish it were Saturday today. Saturday is the day when I go to the dentist’s. I don’t like the dentist’s but I’d rather go to the dentist’s than ride that elevator.
Basically, I have been trying to determine the month for some time now. It might be November, but here is no way of proving this. There is a stove next to me. Though no fire has been started. If I made fire I could get warm.
My legs are cold. If I do not light a fire, it is of no consequence. It is not so cold that a fire is imperative. It is most likely November now, but I cannot be sure. There is an air conditioner in the adjacent room. If I turn it on, cold air will blast out of it instantly and I’ll feel the cool. But I do not particularly think that wind is what I need.
Basically, the thermometer registers 17 degrees. 17 degrees is the proper temperature for November, but the temperature does not always reach 17 degrees in November. It rises to 17 degrees in April and even in May. It could be April now.
Basically, my memory tells me you are living with me here. In the morning you leave at 8:05 and you return late at night. We have been living in this way for some time. I wonder if my memory can be trusted. I wonder if this happened a long time ago, and if you have already left this place.
After leaving here, did you go to live with someone else somewhere? Or are you and I going to live together? Next year, after the new year begins and the flowers are in bloom, will we live here? Did we promise each other that we would? Or did you die a long time ago? Have you lived here for some ten years, and did you suddenly die a few years ago? Am I left alone? Why did you die? Was it from sickness? An accident?
Basically, I can’t recall how old I am. I found an I.D. card in my drawer. It says I am 15 years old. Does this mean I am 15 now? Only 15? I must study for entrance exams. I must practice vaulting the horse at the gym. Does this mean you were a dream? Does this mean that I have never met you? Will I meet you after many, many years? Will I meet you when I am 23, eight years from now? It gives my birth date as June 30th, the 30th of June in the Showa era. I do not know an era called Showa. I do not remember have been born in that era at all. That means that this birth date is probably not mine at all. Next to my birth date there is a picture. There is a girl who looks a little bit like me, though she is quite different from me. The length of her hair and its style are different from mine. The expression on her face. That is not the way I smile. I don’t smile like that at all. I rarely smile at all. It is not my face at all. It is not my I.D. card.
Kita Kyushu Kirigaoka Municipal Junior High. I have never heard of such a place. I don’t remember ever going to that junior high school. Toshiko Hirata. 4th class in the 9th grade. I am not familiar with such a name. It is not my name. It is not my I.D. Or if it is, the person here is not me at all.