Monday, June 1, 2020

Miho Nonaka

Miho Nonaka is a bilingual poet from Tokyo. Her first book of Japanese poems, Garasu no tsuki, was a finalist for Japan’s national poetry prize, and her poetry in English has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She is one of the poets I featured in In a Strange Land: Introducing Ten Kingdom Poets (2019, Poiema/Cascade).

Her first full-length collection, The Museum of Small Bones (2020, Ashland Poetry Series) has just been published. Her poems and essays have appeared in various journals and anthologies, including Missouri Review, Southern Review, Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, American Letters & Commentary, Iowa Review, Tin House, and American Odysseys: Writings by New Americans (Dalkey Archive Press, 2013). She is an associate professor of English and creative writing at Wheaton College, in Illinois.

The following poem is from In a Strange Land.

Water and Fire

No confusion, not drunk, never
fear when you feel
the water bubbling

from within. Each soul
is a well, set apart, alone.
The sun is directly over

head, and a stranger
waits for you at the well,
thirsty. He has nothing to draw

with, and the well is deep.
So is every other well,
he reminds you. It’s not up to you

to decide whether you’ve
suffered long enough.
He knows your name,

doesn’t he? Love comes
in tongues of fire. Flames
won’t set you ablaze;

you will be unconsumed.
A pair of wings brush past
your eyes in silver flickers

as the sound of water nears.
Open your thirsty mouth.
He is offering your very self

in a glass, the same water that
connects every well flowing
between Father and Son.

The rushing water reverses
something of Babel
in each of us: an upturned

hourglass measuring
the immeasurable, holding
our shattered lives together.

Posted with permission of the poet.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection is Ampersand (2018, Cascade). His books are available through Amazon, and Wipf & Stock, including the anthologies The Turning Aside, and Adam, Eve, & the Riders of the Apocalypse.