Madame Drain by Hiromi Suzuki

Madame Drain

In the forest, a young man in a salopette with a ginkgo leaf emblem is cleaning the fallen leaves. The forest is not private land. The man works here commissioned by Tokyo. He is speaking to sandpipers inarticulately and giving bread crumbs from the gap of the trees growing untouched. There is a pond made of groundwater. Agricultural tools are cluttered in a plastic greenhouse beside a disused field. The man walks cautiously like balancing on a balance beam along a muddy rut. Streams here and there are covered with concrete lids. The forest is full of tranquil secret steam.

90 years ago, the hospital moved to this land when there were almost no houses around. The various plants grown in the meantime now provide rich greenery, shade, seasonal flowers, and fertile land. There are people who met raccoons and rabbits. Also abundant in reptiles and amphibians such as snakes and frogs, many species of insects like dragonflies and butterflies. As results of the 2006 survey, as can be seen from the fact that the creek had flowed in the site originally, the underground water was also considered to be a rich stratum, and many animals and plants living on the waterside were observed. Trees include ginkgo trees, cypresses, red pines, Himalayan cedars, etc., and old trees with blooming flowers such as cherry blossoms, plums, pomegranates mold the deep forest. Marks of hunting in the Jōmon period (14,000–300 BCE) have been confirmed. It is known that there was natural spring water in the pond. Currently, the source of spring water is blocked by sediments.

She is smoking in a gazebo on the shore of the pond to take shelter from drizzle. She is in the forest from Monday to Friday after her husband and children empty their house in the afternoon. The ballet flats at the tip of her leg in raincoat made of rubberized fabric are swinging.

– Hey, are you drunk? –

She asks the man pleasantly.

– Seems to be unsure of your footing. Pills or something? –

The man has been tired of her words. He answers while being annoyed.

– My head is just asleep. –

She turns the pages of a book.

– My head is foggy! Because of humidity in the forest! –

The man raises his voice while staring at her eyelashes that move earnestly between the lines.

– Are you eating properly? You are very skinny. –

She cuddles the book as if she cherishes kitten. And turns her face to the man. The man murmurs breathing a sigh. (Not your business!) But he feels an electric current having strong heat passes through his thin body.

Pourquoi que chacun il la viderait pas sa poubelle? Pourquoi faut-il quil y en ait qu’une seule qui vide les chiures de cinquante autres?

– What? Say that again. –

– Why does no one empty the dust in this pond? Why do we have to pity the ghosts drifting for fifty years? –

Her cigarette smoke and joke are skipping like raindrops on the puddle.

– I came to this pond from the drain of my kitchen. Underground waterway is dark but warm. I met an otter today. As the otter whistles a tune into my ear, I kiss his nose. Can you swim? Shall we go into the pond? –

She floats the hydrofoil slowly on the pond.

– If you are in the water, you can ease by buoyancy. –

The hydrofoil takes him to the bridge girder at the roots of Zelkova tree.

– No! I cannot swim! –

The man throws a hip flask into the pond from his pocket of salopette. Bubbles of spring water draw a quiet ripple on the surface of the pond.


1: Tokyo Metropolitan Matsuzawa Hospital Clinical Psychiatry Seminar vol.1 written by Yūji Okazaki (NIPPON HYORON SHA CO.,LTD., 2008) *Translation: hiromi suzuki, 2019

2: Madame Dodin from Des journées entières dans les arbres written by Marguerite Duras (Gallimard, 1954)

hiromi suzuki is a poet, fiction writer and artist living in Tokyo, Japan. She is the author of Ms. cried – 77 poems by hiromi suzuki (Kisaragi Publishing, 2013), logbook (Hesterglock Press, 2018), INVISIBLE SCENERY (Low Frequency Press, 2018), Andante (AngelHousePress, 2019). Her works have been published internationally in poetry journals, literary journals and anthologies.
Web site:
Twitter : @HRMsuzuki

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