Naoko Fujimoto

Beneath the Sand

A bubbling crab is not consciously aware—
it is bubbling from a lack of oxygen;

if it walks into the ocean,
                                                            if somebody splashes water on its shell,
                                                                                                                          it would survive.

Crabs walk in a line with other crabs,
some, grouped together,

do not sense where the water is
and get lost on the land—

behind abandoned buckets and basins,
their bodies will be dried out.               I do not know if

                                                                      my toes are stepping on bubbles on the sand
                                                                      or scattering water over the suffocating ones.

Seagulls are so patient to find the largest bubbles on the sand.
                                                                      Mother, Come here! This one needs water!

Most beaches I know of have never seen bubbles from deep inside their sand,
                              which means there would likely be no choked clams or crabs underneath,
                                                  or simply no clams or crabs to begin with,

even if someone here forgot to sprinkle extra water,
                              or seagulls’ beaks already scooped them up
                                                  without spilling their copper blood.

                                                                                (Do I know crabs do not have hemoglobin?)

The waves break it down into pieces and grind it into a bony dust.
                              More hemoglobin drifted back and forth
                                                  almost like red jellyfishes spotting a shining dune.

                                                                                (Is my body bleeding internally?)

My doctor suggested I remove it with a simple surgery
                              while she does not know that I cynically name it
                                                  and try to negotiate
                                                                                (the negotiations would likely be exhausting)

over the phone, though I want to hear what the voice would say next,
                              like feeling for the source of the pain deep beneath my useless oviduct.
                                                  “What thoughts I have of you tonight,” Mr. Skylar K. Cullivan,
                                                  I wish you had free will,
                                                  so I could negotiate where your ‘patch of land’ would be.

                              Mr. Skylar K. Cullivan does not have free will,
                              I repeat to myself, and want the tweezers to pull him out;
                              (like that) his tentacles’ prickly bottoms wiggles deep in my internal wall.

For example, Mr. Skylar K. Cullivan is an unwanted one. And remember,                    I
I allow him to grow; perhaps, to harvest him from my delicate place.

The most effective way to communicate with him is with a clipper massacre.
                              That afternoon, his fellow grown-ups and some babies were mercifully
                              removed in a steamed tub and drained into a pipe without any blood spilled—
                                                                      my doctor watched them silently wash away.

                                                                                                                                  (So, can I get pregnant now?)
                                                                                                                                                      I wanted to say something
about non-mothers
before the spermatozoa was swallowed
by my vaginal discharge,
like billows,
rushing back though the tube instead,
and my high school teacher
(home economics class) laughed at me saying,
“This is not productive.”
The other two students did not want to be mothers—one said,
I want to draw cartoons all day long,
and the other asked, Why is there only one option?
The teacher made us stand up in the room
where there were no mother-less daughters
whose mothers cooked our bento every morning.

Once, I promised a girl
to be her mother
in her country, but I didn’t stay.

The stain seeps
                              in the ambiguous water
                              juicing out all the liquid
                              from her body of the curved bay
                                                                      around a lighthouse;
there the rain gurgled, an extreme tributary,
merging into the ocean,
melting a big part of an iceberg,
somewhere twenty people lost their house keys                                                  and entrance doors.

                                                                                                                                            (Didn’t they wash away?)

It does not matter with the entrance doors or without—
her swelling blisters
bled out powerful detergent;
a spin cycle in the mind. Thin
walls chipped
the racks. Steam ducts blew
hot air, crawled out
over yellowish glue
that strangled the ants and spiders
every single day.

Mother, when will you pick me up?
I thought I hear
her calling me Mother,

                                                  that is all. I am nobody’s mother.
                                                                      (Dear Ancestors, I don’t know I want to be a mother.)
                                                            (Is it okay to give up being her future mother all together?)

I do not have a child,
but I wonder what its mother feels
between death of little things;
the two steps on its own.
                    The cat stares at it, not eating nor playing,
                              just observing. Aren’t you gonna fly?
                              It huddles in the corner of the window,
oozing out its shit. Eyes wide open. Fidgeting.

                              The bird’s spirit on the first day falling from its nest.
                                                            Lying on the adjustable beds,
                                                            skeletons clattering;
                                                            feeding tubes beneath their stomachs,
                                                            now everyone lives
                                                            one hundred years. When am I
                                                            supposed to be under the ground to be free, not thinking
                                                                                                                                            could of,
                                                                                                                                            should of,
                                                  after ordering my own diapers for the last seventeen years?
                                                                                                                                  (The doorbell rings.)

Ghostly clouds surround my head,
so don’t let the lamps go out—
I am too scared to sleep when my feet are too cold
like dipping in the night sea;
the rippling waves;
her body weighs almost nothing, then I think—
I think of her more than she thinks (thought) of me.



Naoko Fujimoto’s recent publications are forthcoming in POETRY, Kenyon Review, Cream City Review, Prairie Schooner, and many others. Her poetry collections are: Mother Said, I Want Your Pain, winner of the Shared Dream Immigrant contest by Backbone Press, Where I Was Born, winner of the editor’s choice by Willow Books (spring, 2019), and Glyph: Graphic Poetry=Trans. Sensory by Tupelo Press (winter, 2019). Her previous chapbooks are Home, No Home (Educe Press) and Silver Seasons of Heartache (Glass Lyre Press). She is currently an associate editor at RHINO Poetry in