Camellia Japonica
 Listen to a friend’s English words

laden with Japanese accent,

while I smell

freshly bloomed camellias in the park

in the middle of Tokyo near the Imperial Palace,

deep inside, where the paths are pierced

by gnarled tree roots, and I

am filled by the day.

The voice belongs to his face,

his words become song, as we walk

between rocks and earth

near the water that flows further down.

Lines in his brain lead

like longitudinal axes in an atlas

to a shared, almost intact

story I've heard fragments of before,

until his words are interrupted

by crows in the air above the trees.

Suddenly, the absence of speech becomes

hermetic silence, when we stop

on our way up the steep slope

by the water, where nothing other

than our breath can be deciphered,

and a cataract of smells around us

strikes deep roots that no one can run from.


 PIA TAFDRUP (translated by David McDuff), from THE SMELL OF SNOW (LUGTEN AF SNE, 2016) 

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