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
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
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.

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

3 2
Craig Fishbane is the author of "On the Proper Role of Desire" (Big Table Publishing). His work has also appeared in the New York Quarterly, Bartleby Snopes, Drunken Boat, Opium, Night Train and The Nervous Breakdown, as well as the Flash Fiction Funny anthology.
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