An Excerpt from “Letter to the Soul”

Melissa Kwasny

After a series of photographs of Kazuo Ohno taken by Eikoh Hosoe, Hokkaido, Japan, 1994.


I watch the butoh dancer fall, layer by layer through the worlds, until the floor becomes a barrier to the last one. He wears a dilapidated hat, made of twig and straw, as if a magpie nest were constructed atop his head. A great many people are coming to life in me, he says. Like the minerals of earth inside my blood. Who lives in our bodies? Who passes through? What ghost dances ghost-dances in our thoughts? In the series of transformations—the operation, the fire, the night I poisoned myself eating wild mushrooms from the field—there was danger, but something always woke me up. The soul must be transparent, a teardrop made of glass, like the crystal I found detached from its chandelier. Hung in my window here, it releases rainbow flock after flock, which land momentarily on my blankets or my hands. What about your hands? the dancer says. Use them more freely. As if they grew those selves inside them and sent them out.

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