Hollywood Finch / Hiromi Suzuki

I took hard-boiled eggs for the brunch. Even espresso cannot wake me up from sleep. The heavy rain throughout the night turned into drizzle. Karen Carpenter is singing the song ‘(They Long to Be) Close to You’ on the radio at Italian diner. My umbrella leaning on the window wets the floor. A sparrow is resting outside the window. Her beak shivers with rain as if she sings a song.

Why do birds suddenly appear

Every time you are near?

The diner was crowded on Sunday afternoon, so I had to share a table with a stranger wearing an old-fashioned double-breasted suit. After a long silence, at the same time as Moretti and Penne all’Arrabbiata were carried in front of the man, he spoke to me suddenly.

“I am in the business of seven flavoured chili pepper – called Shichimi Tōgarashi in Japan – which was mass-produced and popular in the 1940s. After being banned from the biggest shopping center in this city, they had been hidden for a long time in a warehouse of a foreign port. Several years ago, I got the unopened excess stock from a merchant. Could you taste it please? I want to know if the special seven flavoured chili pepper is suitable for the modern people. There is the stock in my suitcase at the hotel near here. I will bring it from now.”

Once the man takes a sip from his beer glass, he leaves our table in a hurry. Well, what shall I do? Should I wait for the man to come back while watching his Penne all’Arrabbiata getting cold? Someone says, “It was September”. The bustle of the diner is getting entangled in the ceiling fans. “No, the funeral at the Wolf Valley took place in November…”. The conversation quietly evaporates. With dragging its legs at spiral stairs leading to the banquet hall on the second floor. The voices that will fall as soon as boil. The topic that will be forgotten someday. The memory. My life. The man was already sitting in his seat when I am sprinkling salt on the boiled egg without noticing. The man calls a small cylindrical can on the table, “Hollywood Finch”. And like a magician, he decorates brightly my egg whites with seven flavoured chili pepper. It is powder in seven colours rather than chili pepper of seven flavours. “My lunch is always this” He eats the dried- out pasta. “Every day. I am bored with this. So, I change the taste by seven spices. Spices have different flavours and aromas depending on the weather and mood of the day. Seven days a week, seven types of changes. But that is all. Just the loop of seven times. That is my life.

He laughs while saying that we are the same as the little birds bred in the cage. They live in hope that the time is passing by. “Sparrows are”, he points at the sparrows. Sparrows fly away to the dim sky surprised at signboard lighting on the opposite bar. “Sparrows are synanthrope which exist with us in the city. However, birds as species will never long to be close to us. Do you know is their lifespan half a year?”

Why do stars fall down from the sky

Every time you walk by?

The man like a migratory bird confirms the departure time of the overnight ship, packs up his stuff in a suitcase at the floor. And he is about to go out of the diner. With leaving behind me and seven flavor chili pepper. “I would shut my business and…” he tells me, “I become the wild at the California Coast Range where the sequoias are native in”. I am missing an opportunity to fly away from the birdcage. With dreaming the daydream of lively city. The moist slightly warm wind in brilliant colour touches gently the feathers of my back.

hiromi suzuki is a poet, artist living in Tokyo, Japan. The author of Ms. cried, 77 poems by hiromi suzuki (kisaragi publishing, 2013), logbook (Hesterglock Press, 2018) and INVISIBLE SCENERY (Low Frequency Press, 2018). Her works are published internationally in Otoliths, BlazeVOX, Empty Mirror, Hotel, Burning House Press, DATABLEED, MOONCHILD MAGAZINE, Hotel, talking about strawberries all of the time, Mookychick, Coldfront, RIC Journal, 3:AM Magazine, The Cerurove, A) GLIMPSE) OF), Asymptote and so on. More work can be found at hiromisuzukimicrojournal.tumblr.com.

*Quotation: (They Long to Be) Close to You
Song by the Carpenters, 1970
Lyrics by Hal David
Music by Burt Bacharach

*Note: Hollywood Finch
The House Finches called the Hollywood Finches were found only in the western United States and Mexico. Male finches have beautiful wine colour from head to neck. After WW I, they were illegally bought and sold at the pet shops in New York City. By the Migratory Bird Treaty Act selling “Hollywood Finch” was banned and the birds were released in the 1940s.

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