Sawako Nakayasu


Girls Inhabit Arch


One girl’s lips tremble mountainous. One fears the loss of delicate facts. One slides right off. One leaves her fingerprint in my eye.
Here is what I know for sure.

One girl is a gift. One girl is a city. One girl is a city visiting another city not itself. One girl is sadness. One girl is a well.

The hat styled with pigeon wings is not a girl. I’ve told you this before. The girl walking nonchalantly through the streets of a European city is not a girl, unless she has a bat. The girl too full of walks, of women, of sights, comes to pause under the arch.

I mix think female all the time. I shook-hot your fat into mine. I arch you to the tender touch, that was a burn. I statue my limits into a marble female gaze. That is to say, I am looking at you. You look for a door. We are outside. O, we are out.


Is It Safe For Girls To Have Favorite Bears (Translation)


Where is the true turning point of the girls. What jagged edges of “bears,” “girls,” or “the broken” continue to turn?

Some angels are more bear than profitable.

Midsummer night fires are inelegant displays of annihilation. Discipline against pleasure.

In the thick strident part of her curvature, Girl G trespasses in the passions. Her amange, convaincted and groaling, originate possible viscosities into a torrent of escape, carries forward a graceful, probing exit.

I call the cat named Moose a bear. My lap hap stance allows this tenuous line to remain, in shout.

Girl D allows too many people and koalas to mingle. 20 meters is 20 meters. It’s the ones who resist that we most want to kiss.

Girl B wiz the one small ride of light, I know it like the back of my wrist. The woke sunset is a painting. When I look too closely, I am flicked and whistled away from a distant voice of civility.


Girl F Walks Into A Bar


Girl F pushes open an unmarked door, entering a bar full of Asian men in America. As she moves slowly through space, contemplating where to sit, a few men pat her on the back, gently. Two indefinite young women in white look down at her. When she has made her decision and is seated, she spikes both their drinks with ancient herbal roots to signal she is ready to fuck, and everyone else, of all genders and races, starts shaking their heads vigorously.


Est-Il Sécuritaire Que Les Filles Aient Des Ours Préférés (Traduction)


Où est le vrai tournant des filles. Quels bords déchiquetés de «ours», des «filles», ou des «cassées» continuent à tourner?

Certains anges sont plus ours que rentables.

Les feux des nuits d'été sont des démonstrations inélégantes d'annihilation. Discipline contre le plaisir.

Dans l'épaisse partie strident de sa courbure, Girl G transgresse les passions. Son amange, convaincté et groalit, lance des viscosités possibles dans un torrent d’évasion, en portant une sortie de grâce, à la sonde.

J'appelle le chat nommé Élan un ours. Mes genoux trouvent que cette ligne ténue peut rester, en criant.

Girl D laisse trop de gens et de koalas se mêler. 20 mètres c'est 20 mètres. Ce sont ceux qui résistent que nous voulons faire la bise.

Girl B estait la seule petite tour de lumière, je la connais comme le dos de mon mélancolique. Le coucher de soleil woke est un tableau.

Lorsque je regarde de trop près, je me sens qu’un coup, un sifflet m’éloigne d’une voix de civilité lointaine.




Girl H says let's turn ourselves into bullets and load up this gun.
Let's not and pretend you never said that.
Come on. That way we can choose where we go and who we hit
And whose flesh we tear apart with impunity and disregard?
We can reverse all the injustice by recalibrating who lives and who dies. We'll disrupt the systems through which they determine who is guilty
By turning ourselves into bullets we’ll finally rid ourselves of the baggage of being female
We'll be free
We'll be powerful
We'll burn it all to the ground
You mean like when they firebombed the whole city of Tokyo
No like when you finish a board game and you start all over. We burn it all down and start again from nothing
We'll get arrested
Bullets don't get arrested
We'll be taken into the labs and analyzed they will trace our DNA then rape our mothers
Bullets don't have DNA
Bullets don’t have mothers
We'll feel so guilty
Not by the time we are bullets bullets don't feel
But what if I do. What if I wuss out and jam the barrel
You don't have control over that
You said we would have control
No I didn't
We would have control
Just then a water gun drops down from the ceiling. While the original argument carries on, the rest of the girls go bury their heads in the water.


Girl P – あのコの話は終わらない (By Kyongmi Park)




ひまわりが おちる
ひまわりが あたまが おちる
ひまわりが まっさかさまに おちる
ひまわりが きいろい ちが ちらばる
ひまわりが きいろい ちが つちに にじむ

にほんとうを ふりかざして おじちゃんは だまって ひまわりを きりおとした

ひまわりは わたしより せが たかい
ひまわりは おねえちゃんと せが ならぶ
ひまわりは きりおとされ たおれながら さけぶ
ほんとうは おねえちゃんが さけぶ
おじちゃん おじちゃん おじちゃん

にほんとうを ふりかざして おじちゃんは だまって つったっている

おじちゃんは なぜ ないているのか
おじちゃんは せんそうが おわったことを しったから
おじちゃんは しんじてきたこと すべてを ひていされたから
おじちゃんは むなしくて にほんとうを ふりかざしたのか

おじちゃんは ひまわりを ころした
ほんとうは おねえちゃんを ころした
ほんとうは わたしのことも ころした
あかい すなが まいあがり 
あったことを なかったことにした
あの なつの ひから わたしたちは なかった ひとたち



Is It Safe For Girls To Have Favorite Bears (Translation)


Is it safe for girls. Which jagged edges of “bear.” Of the question. Earlier question turns in place, broken ballerina.

Many angels more profitable than bears.

Some visitors are unceremoniously kept in the coop: precaution against pleasure.

In the “danger” narrative, Girl G lays it all down in the grass. Their “angel,” feeling little incarnate possibility in such viscous matter, muscles forward nonetheless with grace and aplomb.

The moose was a cat, I know now, I knew it then, differently now.

Girl D invites too many people, over the capacity of the trees, 20 m is high enough that most rational people fear risking their lives for the sake of poetry, koala poetry at that. What they’ll do to free poetry.

Girl B was the one riding here, but only I know about the time they were rode. The sunset remains fake, even here. Distance comes in for a closer look. The flickers jump off and dash into the distance, animated beyond civility.

Girl J comes close to mistaking self for angel, until getting eaten out by one and they no longer remember where she angel began.


Girl P – Whose Story Never Ends (Translation)


Girl P was not born here. This is a continent. Girl P was born and grew up on a peninsula on the edge of the continent. This place was somehow different from the continent. It made its name alongside the great changes and upheavals on the continent at the end of the 19th century – it was a “modern city” symbolizing 20th century culture. In this place, people who had migrated were more conspicuous than those who were from the continent. Girl P walked the acacia-lined streets. There were some Russian words lit upon the brick houses. There were German words. The language of the continent flickered between the houses made of brick. When Girl P returned to her brick house, she was enveloped by the language of her parents. No, she was entrapped by them. She closes the door and shuts out the language of the continent. She warms her hands on the fireplace, places them on her cold cheeks. Sometimes the wood in the fire shifts. The color is of a transparent column of fire. How far up does the warmth continue. Girl P is absentminded and her cheeks are flushed. Her parents’ words tumble into her ears. It is time for dinner.

Sunflowers   fall
Sunflowers   fall   on my head
Sunflowers   fall   upside down
Sunflowers   their   yellow blood   scatters
Sunflowers   their   yellow blood   stains the earth

The man   with the Japanese sword   silently   chops down   sunflowers

Sunflowers   are taller   than me
Sunflowers   are as tall as   my sister
Sunflowers   are fallen  they scream   as they fall
In reality   it is my sister   who screams
Hey   Hey   Hey

The man   with the Japanese sword   silently   stands

The man   why does he cry
The man   who learned   the war had ended
The man   who had to disavow   all that he believed
The man   wielding   the Japanese sword   in vain

The man   killed   the sunflowers
In reality   it is my sister   he killed
In reality   it is me too   that he killed
Red  dirt   rises
What happened   was said to have not happened
That   summer   day   since   we   ceased   to   exist

As Girl P grew, she also learned the language of the continent. To the point where she could share friendly jokes with the xiaojie from the continent who came to help around the house. The parents looked coldly upon the girls’ conversations. The parents know a certain amount of the language of the continent. To survive. To survive here. Here, sometimes, to keep their identity hidden. I refuse.


Sawako Nakayasu is an artist working with language, performance, and translation. Her books include The Ants (Les Figues, 2014), and Costume en Face (a translation of Tatsumi Hijikata’s butoh dance notations). She teaches at Brown University.

Kyongmi Park is a second-generation Korean living and writing in Tokyo. Since publishing her first book of poetry 『すうぷ』 Soup (Shiyosha) in 1980, she has continued to publish numerous works of poetry and prose: 『いつも鳥が飛んでいる』 There Are Always Birds in the Air (Goryu Shoin, 2004), 『そのコ』That Little One (Shoshi Yamada, 2003), and 『何処何様如何草紙』 Tales of Everywhere (Shoshi Yamada, 2013).