Hideko Sueoka: Pavane for Kami

Pavane for Kami

Now Kami contains かみ, カミ, 紙, 髪 and 神.
かみ as hiragana and カミ as katakana,
neither of them is kanji, far from English.
Both might be bland meaningless codes.

Kami after Kami changes the contours
like the flare of a votive candle in wind
and shadow. With kanji, this Japanese
term Kami wears different masks.

And Kami 紙 comes from a nearby library:
paper. You fold, unfold it, at last finish
an airplane that flies, whirls, veers off course towards
an imbricate roof, fading into cumulus clouds.

And Kami 髪 is slicked black hair with Alyssum,
a fleeting fragrance. Your tresses
seem sometimes teal streams
reflecting effulgent sunlight in a verdant forest.

And Kami 神 is a god: a daydream takes you
on a high trip starting from a precinct
to the heavens, as the god’s home in stillness
without carnal cares. You are numinous.

Kami comes and goes metrically with costumes
dances hand in hand with hesitant steps;
on paper, embellishes sketches
and waits for fresh life, beyond cliché.


Hideko Sueoka is a poet and translator living in Tokyo. Her translation on photography ‘Shigeichi Nagano-Magazine Work 60s’ was published in 2009. She was the winner of the 2013 Troubadour International Poetry Competition and her winning poem was highly commended in the Forward Prize 2014. Her debut poetry chapbook Untouched Landscape was out from Clare Songbirds Publishing House (New York State) in 2018.

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