Skip to content

Goro Takano-l

A Wake Song



When her husband’s wake is about to end before dawn

A woman tells everybody else to leave her alone

With the embalmed corpse and shuts the door, quietly


She slowly undresses the dead

And stares at its withering penis


Put near the husband’s head in the wooden coffin

Is a washed-out photo of two gigantic rocks

Sticking out of Ha Long Bay, Vietnam, taken

During their honeymoon days in the remote past


As if to reflect herself in a kaleidoscopic labyrinth

She starts to sing a nameless lullaby


Two rocks kissing    Smoke and ashes don’t suit you

On the twilight bay   A bit too early to go earthbound

When your heart was like a dud   Rose of all roses, when will you

Or like incense smoke   Break in flower one more time?


Two rocks kissing               In your face I say our human language

Under blue moonlight     Is a result of sexual selection, almost like

When a war crawled out    This seductive dysfunction; now I nudge

And another crawled in       A gyre widening from this rocking cradle


Two rocks kissing                     Evil as it looks, it is the calmest

Near a dragon’s tranquil sleep    Helpless as it is, it is fierce and sly

When you wondered if           Honey of generation, how can I resist

The peace you’d chanted might be evil        Abiding by this last curfew?


Two rocks kissing            World is watching my aching heart

In the winter rain              Conceiving a changeless work of art

By a floating house         By calling to what I have handled least,

For the floating world       My own opposite, simply like this jest


When the woman cuts off the penis with a knife

The spreading waters turn rose-red in her sight

She will take to the grave this secret booty

And keep repeating her quiet honeymoon

Even after the cremation




(Note: This poem was inspired by Taeko Kono’s short story and W. B. Yeats’ poems)