Jiro Dreams of Sushi
By Lucy Wainger
The gods do not interest him,
nor their debris, nor their terrible storms:
he already knows how a body is made
to glow, precursor to neon lights —
how hunger is hereditary.
Sons should not be haunted
except by the dead, and his father
is sober now, accepts tribute
in silence and Coca-Cola.
He is thankful for strong knees,
for momentum that lives
in the mouth and the hands.
Here is the fish with the filigree
scales, here is the pot of rice — here,
here: the grain of rice that makes
the bowl a bowl. Tuna’s blood
hardening in the water. Here is the night
through which he runs, realizing the floor
has turned to tissue paper, tearing
into morning. No, the gods
do not compel him: he cannot bear
the sight of the sun, an open sore —
prefers the colors of its setting,
how they reflect the ocean’s currents, always
giving rise to something new or
something he has forgotten.
The sky as a table, mounds of rice
glazed with soy, gleaming
like a display of mackerel, like snow
general upon the island’s winter spine.
Days parade in their uniform;
hearts attack, close
markets, open new ones. He teaches his sons
to gut fish, does not despair his own hands’
speed: salt bandaging a cut, memory fraying
at the edges. Reaching, always —
the top of the ladder, buried in light —