Night at the Theater and 1.5 kilometers from Ground Zero by Suzanne Kamata

Night at the Theater
Suzanne Kamata

We’ve come for the pig mask

poker, the rabbit costumes,

the Japanese mime on stage.

At the entrance we are directed to

an elevator that will lift us to

accessible seating. My daughter boards

in her wheelchair, I step in after.

An usher reaches inside, pushes

a button, says “Get off when the elevator

stops,” in French. We rise, doors whoosh

open to an empty, dark hall, a rock

garden, a locked passageway.

We wait but no one comes. My daughter

forms questions with her fingers. The hands

on my watch indicate ten minutes

past the hour. The performance is now


1.5 Kilometers from Ground Zero

We gathered around the
bridge and watched the buildings
burn. Most of our homes were
already ash. Sparks flew and
sizzled. A row of storehouses
burst open like roasted
chestnuts, their skins split, thick
mortared walls halved
by heat, slate roof tiles
exploding in the air like
fireworks.“Beautiful, isn’t it?”
someone said. Everybody laughed.
The dead came
floating down the river.

Suzanne Kamata is an American, but has lived in Japan for the past 26 years. She is the author of three novels, including, most recently, Screaming Divas (Merit Press, 2014), a short story collection, The Beautiful One Has Come, and editor of three anthologies. She currently serves as Fiction Co-editor of and teaches EFL and Creative Writing at the University of Tokushima.

Return to Table of Contents