“Time goes by so fast 28/52 Multiple Exposure” by JanetR3

Translated by Louise Heal Kawai and Matt Treyvaud


You cross the road
and follow the low stone wall to school
my child

I watch

You greet the people you meet
and, just about to disappear,
you turn your head a shade,
glance back

I wave,
and open a window

You turn your back.
I watch you walk away

But then
look back again

You knew your father would be watching still

Growing smaller, fading—

I wave to you again,
my child
you walk on, even smaller now

No satchel
on your back
but dressed for ceremony: white shirt
black shorts—
a special day

Before you left this morning, you said, “Look,”
and held up

A red ribbon.
The school nurse made one
for each of you

To show how much you’d grown
between first grade
and sixth:
A length of red ribbon
dangling from your fingers.

We spent
the same

Thirty-three centimetres
of time



How well I know
the things they call impossible
can change, one day, to done

I still believe the dream:
within the next ten years,
all island bases gone

Until the wall collapsed, no one
believed that it would fall
But who now still believes
that it never will be gone?

The moment we wish it
the bases will be gone
leaving grassy hilltops—
you’ll sit, and freely watch
the setting of the sun

I still believe the dream
that what they called impossible
will change, one day, to done
And who then will believe
that they never will be gone?

Akehiro SHIRAI, born in Tokyo in 1970, won the 25th Yutaka Maruyama Memory Modern Poetry Prize for Ikiyō to ikiru hō e (Toward the Direction We Live to Live, Shichōsha, 2015), a book of poetry about his daily life in his second home in Okinawa, where he moved with his family after the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake. In the essay collection Kibō wa itsumo atarimae no kotoba de katarareru (Hope Is Always Spoken in Common Words, Sōshisha Publishing, 2019), Shirai seeks a language of hope in the desperate times in Japan today.

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