Claus Stamm

To Kazuko—1947

Let us lie down upon our mats. And sleep.
We must descend into the sea—
We two, where the Haruna sleeps,
Sunk, over Kipling’s protests,
By Kelly and Levine. See! On the wrenched
And spinal stairway to the bridge—
The sub-lieutenant. His (your one-time
lover’s) epaulets have tangled in the ribs;
Brass buttons shine in the pelvis. And
How best to speak, then?
With raised finger; with
The sound of one hand, clapping? We
Shall speak with the sound of our love,
And from dark sockets he will dart us
A bright, amused fish.





Claus Stamm is the author of the children’s books The Very Special Badgers: A Tale of Magic from Japan (New York: Viking, 1960), Three Strong Women: A Tall Tale from Japan (Viking, 1962), and The Dumplings and the Demons (Viking, 1964). Three Strong Women has been through several editions, most recently in the Penguin USA Picture Puffins series, and is offered with limited availability in the US here and the UK here. ‘To Kazuko’ appeared in Japan: Theme & Variations: A Collection of Poems by Americans, edited by Charles E. Tuttle (Tokyo: Tuttle, 1959).

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