Mono no aware¹
A perfect piece of fruit: weathered
in all the right places, sun-spotted
just enough to be delicious
It hangs so purposefully,
borne to break this binary
like a book called Kitchen,
produced by one Banana
Yoshimoto, who wrote outside the lines
of Japanese culture, before
gender was accepted as fluid,
before grief was allowed to be
voiced and consumed by
readers and fruit eaters who
long to peel away exteriors
for a taste of nature’s raw bounty,
modified though it may be
We are hungry for experience, and
in times like these, any reality
is sweeter than our own.
¹ The title of this poem is a Japanese phrase adopted by Japanese author Banana Yoshimoto as a kind of personal aesthetic, and has been translated as “sensitivity to things” and “pathos of things.” In her 1988 novel, Kitchen, Yoshimoto was praised for her nuanced and “emotionally observant” writing, with reviewers using words like “delicate,” “neat” and “subtle” to describe her story of a grieving young woman going through life with a mutual friend of the deceased and the friend’s transgender mother. The poem itself is an ekphrastic piece.
Caitlin M.S. Buxbaum is a writer and teacher born and raised in Alaska. She has a Master of Arts in Teaching and a B.A. in English and Japanese Studies with an emphasis in Creative Writing. When not teaching English as a foreign language online, she publishes books through Red Sweater Press. She currently serves as the Mat-Su Vice President of Alaska Writers Guild.