Poems by Ayane Kawata

Ayane Kawata

    1, Stripes
    In an apartment I try to get together with someone I met on the airplane. The body of this young man is completely covered in oily stripes, he is sticky, and I am afraid he will rub off on me.

    2, Falling apart

    Repeatedly, something falls apart. I have only the realization that I accept that ‘this is how things fall apart,’ but there is nothing to see. Its concrete texture has flowed past and disappeared.

    3,Ability to take action

    A man places his hand on my tense, frozen back, and inspects it, saying ‘On a scale of large, medium and small, your ability to take action is small.’

    4,On the grass

    Suddenly, a farmer-like man grabs me on the grass and with a very serious expression kisses my ankles with his nose. ‘With your mouth,’ I say, but he replies solemnly, ‘It must be with my nose.’ He is the offender, after all, so I give up and leave it up to him, until something like rapture wells up in me and I shiver, at which point the man nods as if to say ‘yes,’ in confirmation. He reminds me of someone, maybe the milkman.

    5,Travel scene

    I go on a trip, and take in the sight of a dead person’s bedding being slid one by one down the corridor of a tall tree and shoved down below. A strange resonance lingers in my ears. Later, there is nowhere for me to spend the night.

    6,Eyelids peeled

    From down the corridor a banker or a stage actor, a man I think I’ve seen before, approaches. I am thinking that his glowing smile means that he wants to touch me, when suddenly, standing there, the man peels back both my eyelids and checks me out. I grow cold to him after that and nothing happens.


Ayane Kawata - Ayane Kawata was born in 1940 in the city of Qiqihar in the Heilongjiang Province of northeast China. In 1969, the publication of and subsequent acclaim she received for her first book, Time of Sky (Kumo Publishers, 1969), established her as a prominent and emerging Japanese poet. The same year, she moved to Italy, where she has lived for most of her subsequent years. Kawata has published ten books of poetry, the majority of them by the most important publishers of contemporary Japanese poetry: Shichosha, Shoshi Yamada, and Seidosha. Her poems have often featured in major poetry publication journals in Japan, such as Gendaishitecho, Midnight Press, and Eureka, and have been widely anthologized. In 1994 she was selected to have a book in the prestigious Gendaishi Bunko Series, anthologizing and republishing a sizable selection of her work. Time of Sky/Castles in the Air is Kawata’s first book-length translation into English.
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