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All she wore
when she stepped
into the sea

were three
Japanese characters
tattooed on her thigh.

Kanji calligraphy
that appeared to be
Zen brush strokes,

an inscrutable poem
inscribed
by touch of needles:

the sting
of an intoxicated evening
with the poet in his parlor,

the night
he lifted her skirt
and then whispered his words.

Three simple words
breathed
with a trace of tangerine.

Words elemental
as sun, sky and sea,
some touch of mystery

painted with precision
beneath the bend
of her buttocks—

a design to adorn
the form wading in the water—
adorn but never explain.

Intimations
of poetry
lost in translation

when breasts and buttocks
and belly buttons gleam
with a good wetness

and even travelers ruined
by Tokyo reclaim their innocence
in the wash of the waves—

the wash of white fabric
caressing text
on lettered flesh,

slow repetitions,
soft movements
from hip to knee:

she whispers three sounds
to the sweep
of moist towels

and the poet
absorbs the stain
of bloodspots

from his ink.

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About Craig Fishbane


Craig Fishbane is fond of traveling without a map. His chapbook, "Dengue Fever," will be put out by BoneWorld Publishing in the summer of 2011.

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