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 7

A black scooter sped out of the doorway and, in an instant, disappeared into the cars along the Via Vitale. It was matter of seconds before I realized he had tossed a parcel into my arms. I stood there, bewildered, looking after the speck of shadow and knowing that I was in trouble again. I walked on for another block, then stopped and for the first time looked at the parcel wrapped in orange paper. I had no idea who that guy was except something told me that I had seen him before. I ripped the first layer of orange paper from the package, and saw another wrapping like an eggshell. I hesitated to tear it open, because something warned me that I shouldn't, and sought for a place to hide it among the cluster of small shops, alleyways, and pastry makers that lined the river.

The sun was just lighting the storefronts, and the sweet aroma of baked pastry was floating in the air. I opened the lid of a trash can and put the parcel in it, wondering if I could get it back later, but feeling relieved to be rid of it at the same time. Perhaps some things should forever remain a mystery, like the guy on the black scooter. Yet curiosity is my sore spot and I knew that eventually it would get the best of me. I tried to remember anything about the scooter, sleek and shiny like a rhinoceros beetle. Once when I was in a scorched desert in Arizona I watched an army of ants consume a wounded rhino beetle—eating it alive, and leaving only a glossy husk in the sand.

The scooter wavered in my mind like a mirage, rising again and again from the ashes of my thoughts while I was hurrying to catch the 8:20 train. I was to meet with my friend who was returning from a holiday in the mountains, and who had said that he had urgent news for me. On arriving at the train platform, however, I found that the train had already left. Hopelessly I tried to call him on my mobile phone—no answer. This day had already become a series of missed connections and non-occurrences, and moreover, I found I had thrown away my purse together with the parcel. I cursed the guy on the black scooter but knew there was nothing I could do.

I walked to the exit, and looked up and down the street, trying to find the black scooter, in vain. Without money, I walked back along the street, now crowded with people on their way to work, feeling disconnected with the rest of the world and its inhabitants. A shadowy grey dog, who seemed to hover off the sidewalk, came running towards me. He was the first thing in the past few weeks that showed any sign of knowing me in the slightest. He circled me once, and then trotted a short distance and turned his head as if to say, "Follow me." I had no particular place to go, so I went after him and soon found myself back in the same alleyway, at the edge of the river, where I had dropped the parcel earlier in the day.

I looked around for the parcel and opened some lids of the trash cans. All the garbage had been already removed and there was no sign of the parcel or the purse except, behind the last can on the street, the shadow dog nosed at something silver. I picked it up and recognized it immediately—the bracelet that had been lost while I was playing with a stray dog in a yard the other day. I recognized suddenly the shadow dog was only the memory of yesterday's dog, and I opened my eyes—the bracelet still around my wrist, shining in the morning sun. The sound of a motor scooter fading down the street outside as my husband headed for work, suddenly I realized I was looking down on the street. I left the window for the kitchen table and resumed eating the soft-boiled egg in the orange-colored eggcup.

(Photo by Yoko Danno: Firenze, Italy)

Scroll 1 and Scroll 5 are introduced in Jerome Rothenberg's Poems and Poetcs as "an experimental work in progress."