Scrolls is a new 'experimental' collaboration in progress by James C. Hopkins and Yoko Danno. One of us writes the first half of a sentence and the other follows up the rest of the sentence. The latter begins the next sentence and drops it halfway, which is taken over by the former. Writing thus in turn we draw 'picture scrolls' with words. There is no rule except that a scroll should consist of five paragraphs. When we start a scroll we never know how it will develop and end. We have set out for adventures in an unknown land without a map or a compass.


♥  Scroll 15


This year is bad for azaleas. There was an untimely frost in early May, just before the flower buds were coming out, and now only a few blossoms have appeared in my garden. I'm sitting here, with the party just a week away, wondering how to entertain my guests without the usual full boom of azaleas. I have been planning the party since last autumn, and requested each guest to wear shoes the color of flowers, but so far their choices will be a little limited. White, of course, pink, drooping blue—it seems that nature is not participating in the festivities, but I'm still hoping the yellow and purple of gorgeous irises may stay in bloom.

But you never can predict nature's whim, especially this time of year. Just as unpredictable this year has been topsy-turvy like having hot summer days in winter, or typhoons in early spring. The other day we had a tremendous tornado which swirled up cats, dogs and people along with houses, cars and shoes, and I saw on TV a monster spider caught up in the swirl as well. When the tornado died down, the monster spider was left in the air and began to take various eerie forms—a huge squid ejecting gloomy ink like a spell, or an enormous octopus-like figure. I felt as if it was going to choke me off with its eight long arms which moved like serpents.

The spider was seen for two days after the storm, then disappeared, and a magnificent rainbow appeared in the clear blue sky. I watched at the spectrum—red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet—and noticed a dark streak of shadow along the inner edge of the arch which seemed to touch the earth just behind a shining new building downtown. I decided to go to the building and have a look—you never know what you can do with this kind of phenomenon until you find out what has caused it. I went up to the roof of the building and found there a pile of ashes still smoldering and a strange-looking lump of melted metal. I took the lump—about the size of a medium-sized coin—and dropped it into my pocket and went home for lunch.

I had forgotten about the lump of metal until a few days later when I heard a strange buzzing sound coming from my clothing closet. I opened the closet door, and found the floor was covered with shining insects, about 3.5 cm long, in gold and green colors, with purple stripes. I groped for the metal lump in the pocket of my jacket but it was gone. Then suddenly I realized that it had given birth to the swarm in my closet—which was spreading in all directions. I picked up one of them, held it to the desk lamp, and it began to sparkle iridescently as though the light from a distant planet had found its way into the cells of the insect. As I held it, it turned to dust in my palm, so I decided to keep the swarm in my closet without touching them.

I wondered what I should feed them with, and left the house to wander the streets—pondering over the strange "insects," azaleas, and the way that storms always bring drastic change. A few blocks away from my house is a butcher shop, and the butcher, who was usually busy chopping meat, was acting funny without any lump of meat on the chopping board. With a knife in each hand he was beating the board like a drummer and singing at the top of his voice. The song was something like this: "Flowers in summer never last, and the azaleas are nowhere now. Come back, come back, my sweet azaleas!" and suddenly I became worried about the multicolored shiny insects in my closet, the party, and the dogs that had been blown into the air. I stopped in the middle of the sidewalk, turned around and headed into the nearest bar.

Photo by Yoko Danno: Nobono Field, Mie Prefecture, Japan

Posted, September 6, 2013