Is It Safe for Girls to Have Favorite Bears
Where is the true turning point of that question.
Some bears are more popular than others.
Some children are routinely thrown outside: it’s a disciplinary measure.
In the thickest part of it, Girl G slays the bears of her past. Her lover, having no idea that her moans originate from such torment, carries on with confidence and excitement.
The moose I call Bear will not sit on my lap: I should know better.
Girl D hosts a poetry reading up where the koalas are, 20m above ground. Each audience member must climb to the top of their own eucalyptus tree, in order to get within hearing range of the koala poetry. There is no admission for first-time visitors.
Girl B is the only one small enough to ride on the back of the salamander bear. The sunset they ride off into is painted in broad strokes of acrylic and looks best from a distance. When I look too closely, I am blinded with spots that flicker and whistle in painful shards across my vision.
Girl J comes too close to mistaking herself for a bear, until she gets eaten by one and indeed becomes part bear.
In a Plastic Bag of Jell-O with Nine Other Girls
Once the rods in my eyes adjust to the gradations of green, I regret it. Things were easier when I couldn't see. Those choices are no longer available.
I inhale Jell-O, trusting I will get better at this, assuming the other nine girls have been here longer and they, too, struggled at first. I interrupt the writhing movements of Girl J, who looks like she is trying to appear to be having a good time. I ask, to no one in particular, if this Jell-O is safe to eat. No one answers.
The Jell-O is more muscular than I recall. Have my own muscles atrophied so much as to create this perception, or is it the fault of this minimal-gravity state of being suspended in Jell-O, or were they having a drought. No one answers. Did I ever manage to ask.
I see a sequence of cubes that might function as a staircase leading me up and out of this place. But it's not that I wanted to leave. If only I could find Girl D, we could sell this thing, all of us contained, as a work of art and make a Jell-O-ton of money. Or if I could find Girl H and get a hold of a camera and document ourselves releasing emotions into gelatinous sugar, then smuggle the footage out of the bag, the rescue crew will know what to bring when they decide to come fetch us. I take a deep Jell-O breath and start to shout, Has anybody seen...but then I remember that I am hoping to avoid Girl E, who is likely to blame this whole situation on me.
Although the exact hue cannot be ascertained until they pull us one by one out of the green Jell-O, I do suspect that my skin is turning green. Some girls are darker, some lighter. Their faces, their feet, all of their skin is changing color and I vaguely hope that I might come out of this a little sweeter. Meal preparation or science project, I bet we are not even going to make the evening news.
Sawako Nakayasu is a transnational poet and translator who has lived in Japan, France, China, and the US. Her books include The Ants, Texture Notes, and the translation of The Collected Poems of Chika Sagawa, as well as unconventional translations such as Costume en Face, a handwritten notebook of Tatsumi Hijikata’s dance notations, and Mouth: Eats Color – Sagawa Chika Translations, Anti-translations, & Originals, a multilingual work of both original and translated poetry. She is co-editor, with Lisa Samuels, of A Transpacific Poetics (Litmus Press, 2017), a gathering of poetry and poetics engaging transpacific imaginaries. Nakayasu has also performed on Japanese television as a poetry judge, and in a re-enactment of Yvonne Rainer’s Grand Union Dreams (dir. Yelena Gluzman).