Wakeboarding, in Hamamatsu

You zip me

into a pink and white wetsuit

squashing my boobs:

it belonged to Saiichi’s ex

half-American and 173 centimetres tall

you cup my head

it’s smaller

than a Japanese

how young I look

in my summer cap

you attach me

to a board


pull me by a cord

behind your jet-ski

I weigh more than the 45 kilos of a

Japanese lady

struggle to balance

your friends applaud

as I plummet

into the Tenryu river

how lucky they found me a wetsuit!

we drink Asahi

eat mackerel

round a disposable barbecue



tells a story

about your ex


her friend

a high school teacher

who she says was kawaii – pretty

she knows I understand

cleaning up after lunch

is a group activity

but there are too many hands

I’m left to observe


thanking each other

for taking care of one another

people are hesitant

to leave first

bow again say sumimasen – Thank You





even though we’re in Crocs and shorts

have peed in the estuary

and peeled off sodden wetsuits

so awkwardly

behind car doors

Special Commendation, the 2020 Oxford Brookes International Poetry Prize

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