Like a Murakami

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Jury Selection

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Young Kiyohime felt irresistibly drawn to the joyful gurgling of the River Hidaka.
Dressed in her simplest garments, as was suitable for morning time, she went down the gently-sloping hill, her feet bare on the clay soil.
A few sparse bushes were turning into bonsais without a breath of wind caressing them; only Kiyohime’s velvet steps could have made them tremble like Mimosa Pudica, so sensitive that its leaves fold up when touched. 

In the river lived a hundred-year-old silurus who sometimes deigned to appear to those who approached with sufficient humility.
That was why Kiyohime came every day to immerse herself up to her waist, just dampening her pale pink belt.
More than anything, she desired to find a companion who could share her days and her bed.

When a bird started to sing, she climbed slowly back onto the bank, surrounded by an aura of subtle vapours.
The sun was rising in the sky.
Every morning, she returned to the river. The venerable fish watched out for her, a little lower down, wondering how he could reveal himself without frightening her, she who looked so like a timid little bird.

Once, this old moustachioed creature had heard a salesmen call him a catfish. So it was in the form of a handsome cat as gray as the morning that he came out of the water and approached Kiyohime, like a phantom of the dew.

He stopped, a few cat steps away, then sat down with his tail flat as if pointing the way or acting as a punctuation mark.

Kiyohime went up to him and knelt down with an easy movement, the fruit of long practice. She held out her hand, but did not touch him.

He did not purr.

Translated by Wendy Cross


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