Martha Rhodes


Poems By Hiromi Ito

Marjoram, Dill, Rosemary

Father's Uterus, Or The Map

The Maltreatment of Meaning






Marjoram, Dill, Rosemary

The pleasure of another's embrace is so strong
I want nothing more
Even though situations change, I make the meals
I use the essential spices and oils
Coriander, fennel
The people I take care of

I caught cold
The man said
The man who talks about catching cold always looks pale
He says he can't hear because he's caught cold
He says he can't breathe through his nose because he's caught cold
He says he can't even understand the Japanese he overhears anymore
And so with all of the power in my body
I want to rain my breast milk and saliva
Upon his bad nose, his bad throat
To restore his organs to health
I want to rub and stroke him

In her sweet voice, my child too
Has a touch of cold
My youngest follows suit, her cold continues
Her habit of grasping my nipples also doesn't disappear
When grasped, my nipples hurt
They are withered, not a drop comes out
Grow old
We grow old
Menopause should have come
And so the many daughters whom I have born
Soak up the dripping from my youngest daughter's nose
Wipe the diarrhea pouring from my youngest daughter's behind
Just like they were
Hundreds, thousands of mothers
Into this, they pour their accumulated desires
With her treatment, my youngest
Accepts the caresses of her older sisters
Her body becomes wrapped in song
She hears meaning in fragments
For such a long time, brown sugar, sweet, sweet, sweet, sweet
Meaning is in fragments without meaning
Sweet, sweet, sweet, coriander

My older sister told me she wanted to have her last child at thirty-nine
My older sister who grew up with me, five years my senior
That's what she thought when she saw that man
That man with the axe under his arm
That man with the axe under his arm and the nose ring
She schemed to have sex with him but
When she met him, her desire to give birth had faded
My older sister's girls are very big now
My younger sister's dream
Is to wander her whole life
To have children in distant lands with native men
To scatter children in those lands
Or so said my younger sister who grew up with me, two years my junior
Taking the children she wants
Leaving the children behind she doesn't
Wiping out the children she wants to kill
Fennel, coriander
We can still have more
We can still have more
If I gave birth again, I would live
With my older and younger sisters
If we wanted to touch each other erotically, we would do it
If we wanted to have sex, we'd go outside and do it
That's is our promise
I'd eat with my sisters
My companions
Through speech and silence
We'd embrace
And listen to the sounds of
Each other's breath
Through the night



Translated from the Japanese by Jeffrey Angles (Action Books, 2009)








    Poetry Center Reading:
    Fall 2010