Sophia Terazawa
an étude [1]



“an étude,” Spiderweb Salon (2016)





and here, they call this door the “Ivy Gate.” Though you cannot really see the ivy, I think there is something to be said about the way in which the iron climbs, rather, works to evoke a sense of history in its spine. It——it’s remarkable, really, to walk through it and not feel a thing...


and when thinking about the mask for tonight, a few poems came to mind, but I lost them, so I thought, okay, I’ll just practice my English.


Moving on, we have a woman sitting in a comfy chair, she is watching a two-hour special on the homeland, and by special, I mean the show is full of everything you could ever want: music, drama, singing... I hope that everyone can participate. Soon I will say the word “piano,” and when I say the word “piano,” you should all sing at the same time, like so——aaaaaaaaaah.


Can we try it together? For example, then I cracked the piano——aaaaaaaaaah. Longer still, hold it as long as you can, and if you run out of air, simply inhale and keep going until we all become a chorus.


Can we try it one more time? There is a book of spells. I am a spell, the spell is breaking, still, my tongue, I leave it in the earth, this absent piano——


and as you all sing, I may transform but it entirely depends on you, and in my script now I have the gesture for silence,


and when thinking about the mask for tonight, a few poems came to mind, but I lost them, so I thought, okay, I’ll just practice my English.


Moving on, we have a woman sitting in a comfy chair. She is watching a two-hour special on the homeland, and by special, I mean the show is full of everything you could ever want: music, drama, singing, those Clementine bodies kissing the sky, salt and silver, a back-lit stage in California. You know it’s California for the terrifying glimpse of a white man in the rafters. His one arm flails at the other technician twenty feet away——Light! Light! Light!


The other technician curses, fuck, for missing his cue, but barely. The audience barely notices: the diva in a shadow for one second longer, a fog machine around her, who, like a specter, rises, then the lone piano.





There is a ribbon in the grass, red, a night lark calling. In the lake, I saw a farmer drown. He would not stop. I travelled, next, to the bottom of it, the city square. I wrote a treaty with my teeth and left it there, drove my people home, drove my people home.


There is a tulip in the grass. You cup it in your hands, a firebomb around you, no, echoes in the throat, no, somewhere far behind you, finally, a silence. Close your eyes.


Close your eyes.


There is a tulip in the grass, a silence far behind you, no, a ghost who works his way inside you something cold. Bodies made of stone, I know your heart is hurting. Wait a moment longer for the lyric to return. You know the word for sorrow, left it deep beneath a field. You found it once but lost all meaning save for this, save for this: there is a river in your fold, the sheep do not cry though they murmur right beside you, instantly the humid chill around you. There is ochre, jade, and teak, a voice confiding——Will you help me?







  1. Author's note: ["an étude"] is a performance essay that I recently performed live for the first time in October. About 75% of it was impromptu/adrenaline, but when I sat down later to transcribe it fully on my computer, the text spoke back to me like music, like dark magic, like a coda. It is about memory as much as it is about the performance of it in the context of decolonizing trauma, meaning what kind of language is lost in translation, meaning what my mother gave me as a refugee of war.


Sophia Terazawa is the author of I AM NOT A WAR (Essay Press, 2016)