Inuo Taguchi: “For the Vegetarian”Posted: December 8, 2011
FOR THE VEGETARIAN
John Lennon died, you know.
“That must have been because of unpolished rice and
Jesus said, sitting on a park bench.
“That’s not so,” I said. “John Lennon was assassinated . . . ”
I broke off mid-sentence,
because Jesus had an open New York Times before him
which actually carried an article to that effect.
When I got back to my apartment last night
there was a message from John on my answering machine.
He said he’d very much like me to participate
in a 4-day natural foods workshop in Atami.
If people get too gung-ho over something
do they even forget that they’re dead?
What’ll we call it? Karma? Anyway that’s a sad story.
Jesus spread out a take-out turkey sandwich on his lap
as he talked.
“When I was in Palestine I used to be really healthy,
but since coming to Manhattan everything’s gone wrong.
Is it because I’ve eaten too many French fries?
I tell them not to,
but my disciples themselves seem to frequent McDonald’’s
“Every time I argued with John I lost.
On those occasions my disciples were always upset.
Buddha once told me in all sincerity
that bad food was our karma.”
So John thought he would all by himself
eat up all the unpolished rice in the world.
I pictured John loading his cart with unpolished rice
in an Oriental market in Heaven
and at check-out
sticking out his tongue and mumbling,
“I don’t give a damn about good health, really. After all,
dead people are the freshest of all.”
The sky we see over Central Park is blue everywhere
and I slowly realized that under such a sky
it would be no wonder at all
if I had a call from dead John.
And sure enough when I got back to my room
there was a message from John.
Dead John said as follows:
“The opposite of eating is not not eating.
The opposite of eating is praying,
because while we’’re praying, at any rate,
we can’’t eat.”
Translation from Japanese:
William I. Elliott and Kazuo Kawamura