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Occasional Poem — Naomi Okabe

Monday, September 3, 2007
by

The Circumference Of Blue

umbrellas simultaneous
on Tuesday’s first downpour
of the rainy season,
we meet already acquaintances
and glide the streets of Kobe
where even the newest maps are old

you tell me
the earthquake festival
has been delayed on account of

…………………………….. my house split in two

but look!
here come the high school marching bands
kneeing moist skirts to the sun

……………………………… and all along the street the dogs barking

the drums
arcing over crowds and crab sellers
cause the gaps between our toes to tingle

……………………………… we survived, my family and I

this faultline string of pearls
sewn so tight with stitches of railway lines
seems a patch ready to split sometimes

here the sea consoles

…………………………………. the archipelago

………………………………………………………….. of memory

Naomi Okabe is an unpublished poet of my acquaintance who spent the last four years jiving around Japan, India and various other Asian locales before returning recently to Toronto. Besides poetry, she also dabbles in music and video/installation art (look for her at the upcoming Nuit Blanche). This is my favourite of her poems.

I just love the feel of it — the whole idea of an earthquake festival, a celebration of survival, which gets delayed due to an earthquake but then carries on nonetheless. The imagery is fast and bright — umbrellas popping open all at once along the streets, the marching bands and knees to the sun, drums and crab-sellers.

Then it finishes really strongly with a gorgeous description of modern Japan — ‘this faultline string of pearls/sewn so tight with stitches of railway lines/seems a patch ready to split sometimes’ — offering up a metaphor for any number of things both political and personal, and finally a slow fade out into the warm beaches of memory. It’s a poem that you can read repeatedly, in various moods, and have it affect you differently.

I can’t really think of much else to say other than that I really like it. meopcco 03971semaj

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