Putting on My Face

Facing the mirror, I put on my face
Apply a thin layer of makeup
But not like usual this time, not like each night
Tonight, I become an adolescent boy!

A fifteen-year-old boy's shirt and blazer
A fifteen-year-old boy's slacks
Strangely enough, they fit me well
I become a boy just before his beard comes in

This bet I wager takes hardly any cash
Not even as dangerous as a bet I suppose
Secretly switch jack for queen
And all is well, no one will know
(Repaint a rusty boat and at the right time
The launching ceremony will commence
All eyes on deck focused on the bow)

No longer will I envy any man or woman
I do not need perfume or pistols
Just think and I can be
Concrete woman
Or abstract man

The night grows long
Preparations done, I am ready to go
Among people who are
Neither husband nor lover
Farewell, unfamiliar adolescent in the mirror
Until that boyish dawn one step this side of man

From The Forest of Eyes by Tada Chimako, translated by Jeffrey Angles. Copyright © 2010 by Tada Chimako and Jeffrey Angles. Used by permission of University of California Press. All rights reserved.