My Lover’s Pretty Mouth is the first in a series of Japanese/English poems that are part of a process that is reflective and purgative.
English – My Lover’s Pretty Mouth
Your mouth, your beautiful lips, I love them.
Your Japanese – its elegant music lives there,
that secret sea cave of sound and thought, it’s ancient.
Sharks swim from it – hunting, undulating in cold black currents.
Look! Unsuspecting seals glide to shore – too far away
and not fast enough – the sea is a blood broth now.
Death’s echo in its wake, the shark
Cindy St. Onge on the project:
The Japanese/English poems that are coming through, are what I call ‘telegraphed’, in that there is little contrivance involved until the revision happens. The meaning of My Lover’s Pretty Mouth wasn’t clear to me until I had completed the videopoem.
The poems are rooted in my difficult relationship with Japanese culture, after being married to a Japanese man many years ago. The mystery, to me, is the sudden and spontaneous telegraphing. Honestly, I don’t understand it. At this point, I’m just trying to be a good conduit for the poems, and if I get closure, even better.
As for the bilingual process, the poems were drafted in English with a smattering of Japanese, and I realized as I recited one of the poems that I loved how the Japanese sounded, how the word felt in my mouth, and determined to translate the whole poem – as an experiment. I haven’t spoken Japanese in 25 years, so I had to research most of it, relearning the language, really. As the translation got underway, the Japanese shaped the English revision of the poems, so there was this back-and-forth construction happening. It’s riling up memories, but it’s very satisfying at the same time.
Source: Moving Poems