The Cutting Room

Moonlit sky. Silvery sheen.
Sliver of light. Soft groan.
Open window. Pink peonies.
White comb. Sliver of light.
Pink paper fan. White moth.
In shadows, an unlit bulb.

Black strand of hair. White comb.
Swaddled to a slat, the baby sleeps.
Red obi binds hands and feet.
Bare bulb. Crescent moon.
Sliver of light. A train arrives.
Hiss of steam. Gasp of brakes.

Seeping out the train,
kimono-clad women,
humming, single file
pass the open window.
Open mouths. Open fans.
Rustle of silk. Mist descends.

The baby wakes and blinks
at powdered faces. Pale moons.
Red lips. Pink paper fans.
White combs. Hiss of steam.
Gasp of brakes. White moth.
Fluttering groan. Sliver of light.

Bare bulb swings. Baby’s cheek.
Black strands of hair.
White sharp comb. Red obi, slashed.
Slivers. Pink fingers.
Crescent moon. Window shut.
In unison the geishas sing

             and bare white teeth.

JL Kato is a native of Japan who has lived in Indiana since the age of 2. He only recently learned how to use chopsticks. He is a former newspaper copy editor and the current poetry editor of the Flying Island for the Indiana Writers Center. His poems have appeared in such publications as Paterson Literary Review, So It Goes, and Arts & Letters. The Indiana Center for the Book selected his collection, Shadows Set in Concrete,  as the 2011 Best Book of Indiana for poetry. He lives in Beech Grove, Indiana.

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