I met her on the Japan Tour, late in ’66, a diminutive smiling girl called Ali. I couldn’t pronounce her last name, so she wrote it across the back of my briefs, laughing like a child crazed with her own inventions. On plum wine, we were limitless. She said she had aspirations to be a pop singer but she hated her own demos. She gave me some copies. Mostly songs of love and loss in Japanese, she said. Well, what songs weren’t about love and loss, I thought. One night in her apartment over a crowded Meiji Street, where our shadows against walls were larger than us, she handed me what she called John Lennon’s left shoe. She said he and I have similar shoe sizes—an intuition on her part or perhaps a put-down. I asked her what if he returns and wants it back? She said he would never come back, a gut feeling in her core. I didn’t know what she meant.
When I told her my band would soon be leaving for the States, she said we must not say good-bye abruptly. It’s better if we part by expanding distances. It’s how she was able to cope with her grandfather’s death, until he became completely inarticulate. The way the essence of wind becomes something other than music. We stood and gazed at each other across a wood bridge, from opposite sides of a stream, or with her hidden in a tree and I gazing up, so many deceptive branches. With each distance, she grew progressively smaller. I imagined fitting her in my palm, protecting her from the rain, from people who pretended to be John Lennon. Until I shouted goodbye over the ocean and into a void. But I had her voice on tape and I hired a translator. While playing the recordings in a country-house converted studio, I would open my mouth during the chorus of her first song. I stumbled over the pronunciation of the Japanese syllables. Could I make the sounds my own? The translator kept saying, You are so far away.
is a retired health care worker. His prose, poetry, and artworks have been published in various online and print publications, including The Airgonaut, Human/Kind, Jellyfish Review, New Flash Fiction Review, Twin Cities Review, and others. His latest collections of poetry/prose are Scream from Scars Publications and Split Brain on Amazon Kindle. He loves Fifties sci-fi movies, Manga comics, and pre-punk garage bands of the ’60s.
Girl and Three Jesters, haibun stories by Kyle Hemmings in KYSO
Flash (Issue 3, Spring 2015)
and the Dog That Could Not Forget Her in New Flash Fiction Review
Seven Photographs by Kyle Hemmings in Sick Lit Magazine
(17 April 2017)
Three Artworks in
Ghost City Press (6 September 2016)
Meg Tuite Interviews Kyle Hemmings in Connotation Press
Smoking With Kyle Hemmings by Richard Osgood in SmokeLong
Quarterly (27 June 2011)