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Not a Question
for Shuntaro Tanikawa

Who is it that plays a flute in the depths of time
and causes it to echo through vast ruins?
Who is it that shakes the bamboo grove, makes the highlands undulate
and the flowing river convulse in the sunlight?


Who is it that forcefully steals love from the priest
and lets him die in solitude in the sound of the bell?
Who is it that fingers and twists a rosary
and elicits in the rosary a desire for its seeds to swell?


Who is it that is silent like a ship sunken on the bottom of the ocean
and causes memory to rust and rot?
Who is it that dashes against the crest of the waves
and calms the roaring sea?


Who is it that hides in the forest, creating fruit,
and makes the birds fly down from the heavens?
Who is it that gives beaks to eagles and hawks
and causes them to peck worms out from the stones?


Who is it that tries to stop time by means of prayer
and in his prayer secretly lets time escape?
Who is it that scatters the flowers of youth
and then is buried by the petals of youth?


Who is it that invites the sun into the castle of imagination
and lets it stroll on the terrace?
Who is it that fells trees in the forest in his dream
and ignores the woodpeckers’ protest?


Who is it that hides within the cooling stones of the ancient robbed grave
and discovers the secret of how to dig up graves?
Who is it that sells cultural artifacts on the black market
and is reported to the government by ancestral spirits?


Who is it that sleepwalks on the riverbed of hallucination
and picks up shells?
Who is it that pries open the conch
and buries the land under flood water?


What fingers are those busily selling roses in the city?
What fingers are those that are impatient at a girl’s thighs?
What lips are those exchanging firm vows?
What face is that that disappears in the midst of day?


Who is it that foretells the arrival of world’s end?
Who is it that eagerly wishes to live on another planet?
Who is it that has in his mind abandoned the earth?
Who is it that dreads the end of human beings?