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Issue No. 10, May 1999

The Transcendental Friend

 

Physiology

 

 

Raisin Eyes
Yoko Tawada


On Tuesdays I like to eat my father. He tastes of venison. Bread dough is what he's made of. I know he's really a woman. But you can't say this to his face or his eyes will turn hollow. When the fire is hot and the sun goes down, his dead brother whispers in his ear: you're a woman. He's made of bread dough. His nipples are raisins. The eyes of a woman he went to see in prison yesterday were also raisins. My father has black nipples. I've never seen them, they are buried deep in the flesh of his chest. Like mother and daughter they lie side by side in a cold sweat. Once a day they wake up and leap out of his flesh like a scream. My father tells me about them because he knows I'll like them. But he doesn't show them to me, he presses them back into place before I open my eyes. Usually I eat my bread cold. As I chew I feel the warmth of his flesh. I chew and chew and imagine I am continuing to chew. In reality I stop chewing and look around and find the raisins in the oven. They are burnt and smell like the shadow of a stag. A woman once lived in this house. When my father moved in, she was abducted. I can no longer recall the woman's face. I feel annoyed and go on eating. I sit down on the chair and go on eating. For I like eating my father. It makes him think of the woman and repeat her words, which he taught to her: Whoever sits on the chair must want to stand. Whoever stands in the kitchen must want to fly. I could fly without effort if I stopped eating. But I go on eating and grow heavier and heavier. I wish I were made of raisins. In the language of raisins I say: do not call me by a place name. Do not give me women's shoes. It is the night of the festival of girls. My father gives me a women's spoon. I can't sleep when my bed smells of burnt venison. My father tells me he used to be a man. When he ate bread from the oven, he became a woman. He shouldn't have told me that. I knew everything about him. The bread dough told me ages ago. Now we can no longer go on eating under one roof. I run away from home and have nothing left to eat. At the edge of town stands a house. The door is ajar. From the house comes the smell of venison. I go in and see a bed. It has three legs. In the bed lies my father, who can't possibly be here. His belly is soft and warm. In his belly, my mother sleeps. I'd have to wait a long time for her to be born. He doesn't want to let her go yet. Otherwise I'll have to keep eating away at his belly until I reach her. I stand in the garden and ask the apple tree what will become of her. I can hear two people breathing in unison. One sleeps in the other's belly. The belly is made of bread dough. I'm not hungry. I don't have to be hungry to want to eat the bread. It is dark now, and the lantern casts the shadow of a hunter. If it is my father, I will kill him before he can shoot the sleeping woman. It is my father. I have no gun. He gives a cry and falls. A fatal bullet is embedded in his belly as proof of the murder. I didn't do anything. From his belly, two raisin eyes peer out. Two people are dead, and the third survives.



trans. Susan Bernofsky





[Yoko Tawada, a native of Tokyo, has lived in Hamburg, Germany since 1982 and writes in both Japanese and German. She has received numerous prizes in both Germany and Japan since her debut in 1991, including Japan's prestigious Akutagawa Prize for "The Bridegroom Was a Dog" and the Adalbert von Chamisso Prize awarded in Germany to foreign writers who have made significant contributions to German culture. Tawada's work includes poetry, fiction and works for the stage. Currently she is Max Kade Distinguished Visitor and writer in residence at MIT.—S. Bernofsky]
   

 

 

 


Issue No. 10 Copyright © 1999 The Transcendental Friend. All rights revert to the authors upon publication.