I never pour my own drink.
They never pour theirs either.
Bottles between us, labels run
top to bottom, in a geometry
that like crop circles, requires
distance to grasp. The distance
between a thought and a word.
Five thousand miles and fifty
years separate us. The tapestry
of generations that respect each
others ignorance of the workings
of the world. Every passing drink,
helps me forget how many bowls arrive
and their contents. The shrimp
whirs its legs when the chopsticks
rub its back, paddling through
a white walled dream. If low
creatures can conjure an eternity.
The squirming shrimp disappears,
replaced by a marshmallow,
rapidly boiled, Tell me what it is
after I finish eating it. Sperm
of a blowfish. I’ll try anything twice.
Noodles and slivers of egg
writhe on a curved plate.
A ceiling tile. A clay island
turns to pottery. What better way
is there to defy an island’s solitude,
than to spin the Earth beneath you,
and weave its flesh into dinnerware?
1 – In Japan the drinking culture is such that it is considered rude to pour your own drink in the company of friends. It’s quite refreshing actually.
2 - Japanese is typically written from right to left, in vertical rows from top to bottom. Many of the graphic designs on Shocho and Sake are simple Kanji or picture characters, usually not more than 2 or 3, written from the top of the bottle to the bottom.
3 – The students I’m eating with are old Japanese businessmen, they are quite wealthy, big fish in the little pond of Tokuyama, where I am living.
4 – Traditional Japanese restaurants will serve literally dozens of stages of small portions for a single meal, this I imagine is partly a result and cause of the massive pottery industry and subsequent respect for the craft.
5 – Even as someone who is basically a carnivore this part of the meal disturbed me, a massive, 8 inch long shrimp was cut in two. The tail section still moved a little bit, but I ignored it, the 4 inch section that included the head of most of the legs though was very much not dead. Whenever I touched it or something in the bowl moved, it would thrash its dozen small legs wildly, enough to move the bowl itself. It’s the first time I’ve felt like a tourist here in quite a few months.
6 – The blowfish or Fugu is a delicacy in Japan. It is also a specialty in the Yamaguchi Prefecture famous for the dish. Almost all parts of the fish are used in meals. This includes the blowfish sperm sac which is particularly delicious, and expensive.
7 – The last dish of the meal was served on a large concave earthenware plate. This plate happened to be identical to the clay tiles used in traditional Japanese roofing.
The other poetry link experiments: Burdens, Anvils, Translating Silence,Watching the Weather in the Company of Stars