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Miho Nonaka-I

Afternoon with Koi



The old moss garden gives off

a lime-green light, even


while the day stays overcast.

By the lake, I lean over the parapet


to watch Koi start gathering

under its shadow. Behind me


is my mother, saying you could

eat them like any other fish,


but first, you must move them

to pure water and wait a month,


until they give up all the silt

they’ve accumulated inside over


years. I must have been naïve

to think that evil lives only


outside, the ritual of sprinkling

salt would kill every dirt particle


of death that has followed you

from the funeral you just attended.


And still, all I see from here

is sheer elegance—Koi twisting


their bodies tattooed in some

ungodly dream, each self packed


with pearls of fat, making the claim:

No transcendence without flesh.