Jalina Mhyana

"Kozashi chi no hadae ya kiku no nirinzaki"

I collect my gifts from the North Pacific Ocean -

Green and shimmery purple seaweed like lasagna noodles

Laid out to dry on my sidewalk

The mackerel shrivel outside my window -

Filled with salt, the skin draws taut

as if shrunk with fear,

impaled by skewers all tied neatly -

Glints of silver scales boasting

To the dull daikon hung over the fence

I take down the wash,

Licked clean by the dry ocean wind

The shirts are stiff with salty air

I shimmy them between my hands,

Bunch them up to make them soft again

I notice my own hands as I tuck

My husband's silk shirt into its drawer -

Square and short, large as a man's.

As the silk catches on my broken skin,

I blame the rice fields, forty years

My fingers have dug into that ground

I recall from childhood

An exhibit of woodblock prints -

Geisha bathing each other at an onsen,

Combing raven hair with slight fingers

They called them primitive

How can they be primitive?

Child-women wrapped in kimono, hiding -

Sharp-angled as origami.

Gifts for the dinner table

printed across finely woven paper

as thick and glossy as fabric

Just a girl, I stood on tip-toe to feel

the shallow indentation of one perfect breast

with my little pinky - carved from a block.

How could a knife have created

something so tender, so round

From an obtuse block of wild wood?

Under the print the artist's words,

scratchy hiragana from 1758:

"her naked breasts are little rice scoops,

double chrysanthemums"

Now my husband is home

From Nippon Telegraph

smelling of his mistress -

We sit at our heated table, feet roasting

beneath our dinner of squid and daikon

He reaches over, shimmies my torso

with obligation, bunches up my breasts

to make them soft again -

My feet are so warm but

the heat stays under the table-

I am stiff with salty air

and the knowing that he's been touching

a girl whose fragile pinky

could fit into one perfect breast

© Jalina Mhyana

Submit your comments on this story to our MoxieTalk discussion group by clicking here!   You can also send your comments directly to the author using the form below.

You can do both by typing your response below, submitting it and then copying it, going to MoxieTalk, and pasting it into the form there for posting a message.

Please include your e-mail address if you would like the author to be able to write you back.

[FrontPage Save Results Component]

Copyright 2002 Moxie Magazine All Rights Reserved