From the Terrace of the Hotel Fujiview; It Rained Last Night ; Advanced Intermediates; Abracadabra; Young Woman Bathing

From the Terrace of the Hotel Fujiview

There are Americans here today.

Large of limb, broad of hip,

slow and lumbering,

they monopolize the air.

Two women, a man, a child,

the little boy is Asian,

not of them but theirs,

claimed, a history.

Another man, pot-bellied,

balding, his tennis clothes

an ill-judged vanity,

grasps the hand of a

Japanese girl.  A hostess,

or so I think.  These people

consume, swallow

the world like so much

ice cream.

And all this time

you sit drawing chairs,

occasionally adding

a figure in the background.

When I ask about your choice

Of subject, you say you have

faces enough already

in your sketchbooks.

You want, tell me, to

get the form of things.

The form but not

the voices.  So I sit,

pretender to what might be

written, and your affection,

watching the broad-hatted

gardeners move about

the lawn.  We too

devour.  Above us all –

you, me, the voracious

Yanks, the snipping figures

by the bloomed azaleas –

mountains stand, green

and indifferent to all our


It Rained Last Night

It rained last night.

I looked out from

my kitchen window

and the street below

was wet, and shining

in the light cast by

the street lamps.

A girl was walking

there. She had on a

yellow skirt and held

a pink umbrella up

against the rain.  For

a moment she seemed

she could have been

a stem of blossom blown

along as she passed

the blue-roofed house

across from where I live.

This morning I woke early

and waited for you

to telephone.  The rain

was gone, and with it

the shining street

and the girl in the

yellow skirt who held up

a pink umbrella.

Advanced Intermediates

With us it’s all past tenses now

We stammer in the present

and if the future’s voiced,

it has to be imperfect.

Interrogatives frame your history.

You answer yes and then

supply the details: the where,

the when, the how. We weep

and seek for different truths

with which to cover each deceit,

knowing that our grammar is

defective, vocabulary redundant,

accents out of tune.


Seaside mountebanks bemuse.

Practiced hands and eyes

contrive to extricate your

trick of hearts with some

success. Later you regret

herself, cannot sleep for

troubling dreams, and, shivering

in the dawn hours, seek secret

comfort in my woken arms.

You speak of sorcerers,

and cards turned in antique rooms

where, spellbound, you spewed gold

onto the snowy rugs that carpeted

the floor.

No mean witch yourself,

meeting you from the boat

I found I had forgotten

the instantly remembered

peculiarity of your gait,

but not your brown skin’s

shining in the dying light,

the clarity of your pale grey

stare that somehow conjured

three days of unexpected

tropic heat in our cold

north island summer,

and summoned once again

from me affection illicit as

your own.

Young Woman Bathing

(For Pamela, Governor’s Beach 1978)

Your beauty shimmered

sunlight on salt water,

sunlight on the sea

by which you lay.

The oiled incandescence

of your skin; your turned

and sightless head,

you spine arched upwards

from the mat, your thrust hips,

the wanton disposition of your

arms, your legs.  These things

confessed completely what

you were, but you lay all the while

in unawareness.

You stirred, stood up and moved

with iridescent flanks towards

the shimmering sea which

tantalized and then

consumed you.  A lapse

of movement, a lull

of motion before you

broke the surface of

the waters, rising from

the foam, eyes shut still,

hair flattened to the skull,

shoulders streaming.

Phosphorescent in the sunlight,

you gasped the air,

angular feet poised perhaps

upon some hidden half-shell

of indifference.

Born in Leicester, England, but now long resident in Japan, Clive Collins is the author of two novels, The Foreign Husband (Marion Boyars) and Sachiko’s Wedding (Marion Boyars/Penguin Books). Misunderstandings, a collection of short stories, was joint-winner of the Macmillan Silver PEN Award in 1994.

He was a shortlisted finalist in the 2009 Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction. More recently his work has appeared online and in print in magazines such as Penny, Here Comes Everyone and Carried Away and Other Stories was published by Red Bird Chapbooks in 2018.