Yuki Tanaka




I will start with modern inventions: growth,

abundance, which brought out a world

filled with the dying. Nothing happens.

Children, echoing brooks, hard jaws yawning

in the background. Our place knows us,

our pulsations. This fleeting desire

to last longer, shadowed by clouds

that pass away as soon as we focus

on the sky. Broken ghost. The sun is cold

but does not come to an end. Stasis, deadlock.

Animate this landscape. There is no birdsong.




Look at puppets performing this very act

with consciousness. The waves dilate

without order. Glutted heart. The waves,

claiming unity, unrelieved rhythm,

progress, breaking on shore.
                                                        She weaves

waves and light, remembering waves and birds.

The hand hidden behind the wool. She tries

to capture a blue flower as it vanishes

in a garden. Again and again. What seems to be

its murmur endures. Clipped murmur. Deep-blue

ripple: "He is dead," we stumble, "He is dead."




This blue already fading beneath the waves

which threaten to encrust a diver. Mist

pouring into the body, formless, real

like a child. This new world at the end of pain

remains the same. The night descends

over houses. They are robbed of windows,

give out daylight. The darkness washing

the mist from the fields, grazing the eye.

Now, life can swerve, leaving the afterimage

of its absence: an old wine-bottle and behind it,

the arm of a woman, green sky flickering.



The next landscape introduces a fire.

The fire is real. There is no speech.

When a boy collapses over the basin,

a dream comes, already posthumous:

sunken streets, valleys full of faces,

a young horse yearning for strength.

This is an end in view, beginning

over and over. People spring to life,

watching the breath of a wounded animal.

A faint chirping from somewhere—

unseen, forgotten cages.




Her fever is difficult. She complains

about spots. The cold laughter of a man

who suffers in a burning dress.

Waltzes playing. Uncontrollable laughter.

A Salome dances, replaced by another

in quick succession, confused.

The night falls flat in a crowded room.

The woman tries to talk, unable to turn her eyes          

from a body struck outside. Bright light—

no more. The earth stays still again.

This is not the end of the broken world.






"Discourse on Vanishing" is an erasure of the first half of my doctoral dissertation. It draws on the language of Virginia Woolf's The Waves and Djuna Barnes's Nightwood.