The Vanishing Lady’s Daughter

But when I returned,
she had vanished, my mother,
and the hotel doctor was
only looking me up and down,
not answering, and the manager,
the hotel manager, showed me
the register, my mother’s name
nowhere to be found. And oh,
then the room! Room 342
was all turned round, no
velvet curtain, no wallpaper
with roses, though I knew—
I know!—they were there before.
And where was my mother,
with her fever and her sores,
and I supposed to help her but
delayed, the horseman driving
in circles, heaven knows why?
We should never have come there,
to Paris. We’d have been safer
going straight home, but Mother
had such a notion to see
the great Exposition for a change
after India, its misery and heat.
Do you suppose she’s seeing it now?
Perhaps she shall find me here
in England (but not at home).
Perhaps she shall carry
in her valise—also missing—
a set of fancy teacups or
a souvenir book of photographs.
That is why I stay here,
in this room, by this window.
I tear my shirtwaist, my hair.
I look out over the grounds,
beautiful as Versailles.
I stay. I tear. I look. I wait.

Read the original legend here.


The Elder Black-Eyed Kid

All we wanted was a ride home,
me and my brother, or all we wanted
was to see Mortal Kombat in the dark,
where we see better, you know.
All we wanted was your hand
on the car door in Abilene
or Portland, where

you promised you’d help us out.
C’mon, Mister. Let us in. We can’t
get in your car until you do, you know.

We weren’t going to hurt you.
We only wanted to see the movie
or a ride home, my brother and me,
but you had to go and spread those lies,

you had to tell about our black eyes
and white teeth, didn’t you, Mister,
on the streets of Abilene or Portland,
Mister. We will meet you again

wherever you are now, Mister.
Anywhere you are.

Read the original legend here.


And Aosaginohi, Luminescent Heron of the Night

Aka Manto, I do not wish the blue paper or the red —
no paper for me, thanks. I’ll squat and drip dry,
and thus be neither strangled nor sliced.

Akaname, you are welcome to come and lick my
bathroom clean. I’ll think of you like a house centipede;
we’ll agree to unsee each other as we make our living.

Azukiarai, what is the sound of your azuki beans
being washed? I imagine it as shook shook shook.

Abura-akago, I’m afraid we don’t have the right
kind of lamps for you. Your infant tongue might burn
on the coils of our lightbulbs, and still not find any oil.

Ameonna, do you sometimes make rain for Amefurikozo
to play in? I would do this for any little boy, if I were you.



For NaPoWriMo, Day 2. I wrote based on this list of creatures from Japanese legend. I regret that I couldn’t give the little boy in my last stanza the long accent over his final “o.” I’m still figuring out this new blog theme.