Poetry International Poetry International
Poem

Kiji Kutani

Closing Time

In front of a coffee shop
near closing time
a barefoot young girl with bare shoulders
began, in a raspy falsetto,
to sing an old nursery song.
Her mother,
sandals dangling from her left hand,
shed heavy tears
while trying to stop her daughter’s mouth.
As the girl twisted away,
fighting to protect her song from her mother’s hand,
her breasts shook,
reflecting the green of a stoplight.

Around them the many long arms of night
spread out quietly,
releasing into the world
a burst of particles,
gently aromatic.
Like most earth
containing the body of a dead bird,
brimming over with silence —
who knew night was a time of such fragrance?
Heedless
of the sadness of those
wrapped in its folds.

CLOSING TIME

Close

Closing Time

In front of a coffee shop
near closing time
a barefoot young girl with bare shoulders
began, in a raspy falsetto,
to sing an old nursery song.
Her mother,
sandals dangling from her left hand,
shed heavy tears
while trying to stop her daughter’s mouth.
As the girl twisted away,
fighting to protect her song from her mother’s hand,
her breasts shook,
reflecting the green of a stoplight.

Around them the many long arms of night
spread out quietly,
releasing into the world
a burst of particles,
gently aromatic.
Like most earth
containing the body of a dead bird,
brimming over with silence —
who knew night was a time of such fragrance?
Heedless
of the sadness of those
wrapped in its folds.

Closing Time

In front of a coffee shop
near closing time
a barefoot young girl with bare shoulders
began, in a raspy falsetto,
to sing an old nursery song.
Her mother,
sandals dangling from her left hand,
shed heavy tears
while trying to stop her daughter’s mouth.
As the girl twisted away,
fighting to protect her song from her mother’s hand,
her breasts shook,
reflecting the green of a stoplight.

Around them the many long arms of night
spread out quietly,
releasing into the world
a burst of particles,
gently aromatic.
Like most earth
containing the body of a dead bird,
brimming over with silence —
who knew night was a time of such fragrance?
Heedless
of the sadness of those
wrapped in its folds.
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