Poetry International Poetry International
Poem

Kiji Kutani

Lunchtime

At lunchtime on September 16, 2001,
I squatted on the grass of the riverbank
and looked across at rubber tires
shining here and there on the other side.
If suddenly a stranger
had come up from behind me
and whispered in my ear,
“Today’s May 9, 1961, right?”
I couldn’t have denied it.
The way you do when you finish a meal
without messing your hands,
I felt that day
as if I could fuse easily
with anything, however hard.
Things like the thin body
of a little dog running in circles and sniffing the grass,
a dark-gray cloud skimming the surface of the water,
and even
phrases of poetry I’d yet to read
melted like butter
grew into a creature with no arms or legs
and quietly set about swallowing the earth.
I imagined the scene,
my mouth full
of a rice-ball I’d bought
at the boxed-lunch store across from the station,
the cheapest one of all.

LUNCHTIME

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Lunchtime

At lunchtime on September 16, 2001,
I squatted on the grass of the riverbank
and looked across at rubber tires
shining here and there on the other side.
If suddenly a stranger
had come up from behind me
and whispered in my ear,
“Today’s May 9, 1961, right?”
I couldn’t have denied it.
The way you do when you finish a meal
without messing your hands,
I felt that day
as if I could fuse easily
with anything, however hard.
Things like the thin body
of a little dog running in circles and sniffing the grass,
a dark-gray cloud skimming the surface of the water,
and even
phrases of poetry I’d yet to read
melted like butter
grew into a creature with no arms or legs
and quietly set about swallowing the earth.
I imagined the scene,
my mouth full
of a rice-ball I’d bought
at the boxed-lunch store across from the station,
the cheapest one of all.

Lunchtime

At lunchtime on September 16, 2001,
I squatted on the grass of the riverbank
and looked across at rubber tires
shining here and there on the other side.
If suddenly a stranger
had come up from behind me
and whispered in my ear,
“Today’s May 9, 1961, right?”
I couldn’t have denied it.
The way you do when you finish a meal
without messing your hands,
I felt that day
as if I could fuse easily
with anything, however hard.
Things like the thin body
of a little dog running in circles and sniffing the grass,
a dark-gray cloud skimming the surface of the water,
and even
phrases of poetry I’d yet to read
melted like butter
grew into a creature with no arms or legs
and quietly set about swallowing the earth.
I imagined the scene,
my mouth full
of a rice-ball I’d bought
at the boxed-lunch store across from the station,
the cheapest one of all.
Sponsors
Gemeente Rotterdam
Nederlands Letterenfonds
Stichting Van Beuningen Peterich-fonds
Ludo Pieters Gastschrijver Fonds
Hendrik Muller fonds
Lira fonds
J.E. Jurriaanse
Literature Translation Institute of Korea
Partners
LantarenVenster – Verhalenhuis Belvédère