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In the quiet of night I lay close beside her. From Kazuko.

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oneighty Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-05-05 09:29 AM
Original message
In the quiet of night I lay close beside her. From Kazuko.
One day in Kamakura I see for my first time the bronze Buddha. Kazuko is standing in front of the Buddha her hands held in the same praying position the Christians will do. Her head too is slightly bowed in reverence. Kazuko is Shinto but it can do no harm to honor and pray to many Gods.In the surrounding countryside there are other Gods. One we visit is a tall wooden carving covered with gold. It is the Goddess of Love.

In a secluded Japanese garden is a tiny open building where near the end of our day's journey we sip a special tea from tiny cups. It is a place of significance Kazuko explains. To me it is a quiet place in a forest made wonderful because I am with her. The tea is delicious.

That evening we arrive in Enoshima. On the narrow street entering the village of Enoshima is a pottery shop. Here they make and sell pottery. The pieces on display are beautiful, colorful, delicate. I am told each piece has a built in imperfection as only Gods can make perfect things.

The hotel lobby is large. The floor is made of cross sections of tree trunks fixed in concrete. The wood has been sanded fine, stained and varnished. The concrete between the sections is green.

Our room on the second floor is Japanese style, straw mat floors and rice paper sliding doors. There is a thin mat for sleeping on the floor. The community bath is on the first floor. Meals can be taken in the room and are served on a low table. I will have a cooked fish, rice and fermented cabbage. Kazuko will have her meal of strange things the origin of which I need not have knowledge.

In the quiet of that night I lay close beside her
Whispering to her of my love
She listens quiet breathing sighing singing
And she sings to me of her song.

I sang the song my siren song
That brought you here to me
And you must obey my siren song
And you must be loving me.

In the early morning hand in hand as lovers do we walk the street down to the water's edge where a foot bridge will take is to the Island of Enoshima. To assist in the climb to the top of the island there are wooden paths and stairs. In places there are rocks instead of wood and in others are concrete walks and stairs.

Many years before an English Botanist had planted exotic plants on this island. Here and there are little signs describing the plants and country of origin. Enoshima is an island for lovers. It is here lovers pledge their love to last forever and ever.

There high on a cliff overlooking Sagami Bay we sit Kazuko and I. A hungry dog has joined us. He lay quietly beneath the table. Far below us waves crash onto the rocks white foam and and water sprays high into the air. Among the rocks are what appear to be fossilized sea turtles, two of them waiting forever to return to the sea.

Our meal is served; steaming bowls of rice shaped into perfect Fujiyama cones of white. The diced Conch broth that Kazuko has ordered is served in the shell. Floating in the dark broth are bits of diced Conch and vegetables. Kazuko delicate with her chopsticks raises the rice bowl to her lips and in Japanese fashion begins eating. She has side dishes of mystery foods one of which is a green sauce. Kazuko tells me the green sauce is "too hot for American sailor Eddie san."

I use soy sauce on my rice and sip the delicious conch broth with a spoon. I find my strong young teeth cannot chew the conch so I slip it to the dog waiting patient beneath the table. I notice he does not eat it either.

Kazuko is enjoying her meal. I too am enjoying her meal. I love watching her.

To be continued. Perhaps.

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Orrex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-05-05 01:54 PM
Response to Original message
1. A serene, poignant glimpse at your characters
Throughout the Kazuko pieces I detect a great fragility and impending breakdown. The moments between the narrator and Kazuko are touching and real, but I cant escape the feeling that its always on the verge of falling apart despite the wishes and efforts of the two characters. That may or may not be your intent, but the narrative is moving steadily in that direction, and the reader feels a curious helplessness in watching it occur, knowing that the characters are equally helpless to avoid it.

Paragraph One
I know nothing of Kamakurais the bronze Buddha a specific and well-known landmark? If so, then a clarificationeven a single wordwould help the reader; you could say the famous bronze Buddha or something similar. If its not famous, then its odd that the narrator refers to it as the bronze Buddha. You might combine the two sentences about her praying and head-bowing because it feels a little artificial to separate them. Also, if her head is bowed and shes clearly praying, then in reverence becomes redundant and can be removed.

What is the narrators religion? To refer to the Christians suggests to me that, at least at the time of the story, the narrator is Christian. Thats hardly central, but if he considers himself Christian then I wonder why he chose that phrasing, which seems conspicuous here. In any case, the phrase the Christians will do is a little awkward and should be reworked. Otherwise the image is clear and vivid.

I think you can shorten honor and pray to many Gods to honor many Gods because it reads more cleanly and doesnt repeat the syllable pray. Also, should it be Gods or gods in this context? I think the latter.

In the surrounding country there are other Gods. Thats a really nice image, evoking the magical nature of the place and the narrators memory. Id remove there because its not needed, and double-check the capital G. Might you name the Goddess of Love? I dont know the pantheon, but it would give good depth to the moment and make the scene more personal.

Paragraph Two
Arent all gardens in Japan Japanese gardens? Or does the term refer to a specific style that is distinguished by name, even in Japan? If all gardens in Japan fit in this category, then remove Japanese from this sentence. Special tea from tiny cups is a good image. Give us a phrase or a sentence to suggest why its a place of significance; otherwise it doesnt have much for the reader! You could say She explains that it is a place of significance, where a battle was fought in centuries past or whatever. Just something to make us believe that its significant beyond Kazukos say-so. If you identify the historical significance, then the narrators follow-up sentence acquires more power. That is, hes saying that, to him, sipping tea with Kazuko is more significant than an ancient battle (or whatever). The closing sentence is simple and excellent.

Paragraph Three
Remove Enoshima from the second sentence, and remove the third sentence entirely (i.e., Ive never seen a pottery shop where they dont make and sell pottery!) The closing sentence is very good (effectively echoing a sentiment centuries old!), and it hints at the impending breakdown that I mentioned above. I like that you chose perfect things instead of perfection. Theres the capital G again. Incidentally, the phrase built in should be hyphenated.

Paragraph Four
I dont think that we need to know that the lobby is large because its a flat description. Instead, consider using The floor of the hotel lobby is made of instead, because this immediately moves us to the more interesting description. Is the wood really sanded fine, or is it sanded smooth? A minor distinction, but the word-choice caught my attention. The green concrete is interestingI like it.

Paragraph Five
I would skip the phrase Japanese style because your subsequent description reveals the style on its own. Rather than I will have a cooked fish, which suggests a prediction of events to come (such as on a future visit to the hotel), how about I order cooked fish instead? Strange things is a little clunky and ultimately doesnt yield a very strong image. However, the closing phrase is amusingmight you rework the sentence while retaining the gist of it?

Epigraph
The multiple repetitions of sing, sang, and song are a little problematic. I have to confess also that Im troubled by the siren imagery, because the Sirens of myth were the bane of sailors, luring them to their destruction, whereas Kazuko seems like anything but doom to the narrator. And thats part of the problemif she does wind up causing his doom (even metaphorically), then the image of Sirens will seem very hokey in retrospect. But if she doesnt doom him, then the image seems out of place. Its clever to employ another reference to sailors lore (like Hornblower in the previous excerpt), and its also clever to apply Sirensa Homeric imageto an Asian setting, but it still doesnt quite work for me.

You can use the word lay in the first line, but only if the sentence is past-tense. Otherwise it should be lie.

Paragraph Five
Hand in hand as lovers do is something of a clich, Im afraid, though the image is nice. But they walk to the edge of which water? The community bath? Thats the only water weve seen in this excerpt, but I sense that thats not what youre referring to. Ultimately Im not sure that this paragraph is useful because it does little except describe the path and stairs. I think the paragraph could be omitted.

Paragraph Six
Botanist shouldnt be capitalized. Had planted is the past perfect tense and isnt quite appropriate here. Id suggest the simple past tense instead: botanist planted exotic plants on the island. I have a hard time envisioning exotic plants in this context; are they exotic relative to Japan, such as indigenous African plants? Or are they exotic relative to a westerner but common to Japan? The image could gain quite a bit from a little clarification. Instead of Here and there are little signs describing Id suggest Little signs describe the plants, because the verb describe is stronger than the verb are. Consider rewording and merging the final two sentences.

Paragraph Seven
You could omit Kazuko and I because we really implies no one else. You might combine the second and third sentences. Im a little confusedthe first sentence implies that youre seated on the cliff itself, but the third sentence implies that youre at a table. Which is it? The fossilized sea turtles (whatever they really are) are a great image.

Be careful not to over use the word or concept forever, which appears repeatedly throughout these excerpts. Used a few times, the word has power, but the power fades if the word is applied indiscriminately.

Paragraph Eight
Rather than cones of white which seems artificially poetic, how about white cones instead? In the second sentence we see that Kazuko has ordered Conch broth, and in the third we see that her broth has Conch in it. That seems kind of redundant to mecan you combine the sentences? Kazuko delicate with her chopsticks is a gorgeous imagevery nice. Im troubled by Japanese fashion. I mean, shes native Japanese, and shes in Japan, so I wouldnt expect her to eat like a Packers fan at a tailgate party. I think you can omit the phrase here because it almost makes the narrator sound weirdly obsessive about her Japanese-ness. I like that the narrator still doesnt recognize most of what shes eating, though mystery foods is a little colloquial. Consider using side dishes unknown to me or side dishes that I dont recognize or something similar.

Is that green sauce wasabi? Boy, she aint kidding!

I use soy sauce on my rice and sip the delicious conch broth with a spoon. I find my strong young teeth cannot chew the conch so I slip it to the dog waiting patient beneath the table. I notice he does not eat it either.

Paragraph Nine
This paragraph is greatI can really see the young sailor trying to make a good impression while trying to chew through tough rubber! You could probably omit the phrase waiting patient because it doesnt add much, but its hysterical that the dog cant chew it either. And I suspect that the dog wouldnt be as discrete as Eddie san about it! Very, very nice!

Paragraph Ten
Wonderful! These three sentences, all by themselves, characterize the young narrators love succinctly and honestly, and he really seems like a sincere, lovestruck young man. Theres a sense of peace and simple happiness here that works as a nice counterpoint to the tragic circumstances of Kazukos life and the circumstances that brought an American military man to her land.

I hate to say it, but even this moment of tranquility underscores the feeling of trouble ahead, like the calm before the storm. The meal becomes even more poignant because we know basically whats around the corner for these two, especially because they themselves might also know it, too.

I love that their physical interaction is limited and discrete. Walking hand in hand, though clich, is I think a largely western clich; in Japan it might easily be taboo to walk in public in such a fashion with a tainted girl. This, too, speaks of the innocence of their love, as if they dont care what others thinknot other Japanese, not Eddies shipmates, no one!

For the last excerpt or two Ive begun to be concerned that the style of diction might not work well in a longer piece. The short, repetitive sentence structure is effective in short bursts, but over the long haul they become kind of choppy and start to become clunky in the readers ear. You can still use them, but vary the structure a bit so that NOUN-VERB NOUN-VERB doesnt resonate too strongly after a while.

Still good stuff. Youre weaving a warm and sad tale, and the progression is admirably patient and restrained.

May I ask if Kazuko is still alive? When did you last have contact with her?
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oneighty Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-05-05 04:33 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. Thank you Orexx
Everything you say is appreciated and taken to heart.

Is Kazuko still alive? I have friends in Japan trying right now to find out. We failed sometime ago but they are trying a different approach.

The Siren Poem will likely be removed. That was a spur of the moment instant poem about Kazuko. You can find the whole poem in the Poetry Group. "Batten Down the Hatches Lads, the Captain Is Singing His Song" (Singing up a storm) in nautical terms.

It ends:

So the years passed by and so did I
Sailing the lonesome seas
And singing my song the Siren song
To call her back to me.

Epilogue:

So the Captain he sang his song loud across the sea
And the stars grew bright and the sea turned white
And up from the ocean deep rose the song the Siren song
And it rang across the sea.

The Captain he whispers "She has come for me."
And tears hot crying he leapt into the sea.
Now hand in hand hearts beating together
They haunt the Nipponese land.

Forever perhaps.


I have been writing this story in my mind for years. I wish it to be a story to honor all of the Kazukos that ever were and also to honor the sailors that loved and respected them.

Needless to say it is very difficult for me.

180
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Orrex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-05-05 04:38 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. You can certainly keep the poem in, but be aware
of the impact of the symbolism.

As I mentioned, I think it's interesting that you employ a range of symobls that evoke sailors and the sea, but you're not in-your-face obvious about it.

That kind of thematic subtext can add real depth to a work if used carefully.

Keep it up!
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JitterbugPerfume Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-05-05 05:16 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. Ed, your writing style is
beautiful and passionate

Orrex, your comments are priceless


i just sit here , do nothing and enjoy


thats how I am

hee hee hee
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