Where Shizo Kanakuri Went

Shizo Kanakuri, marathon runner of the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm, disappeared midway through the race. He could not be tracked down. Fifty years later, Kanakuri was found in Japan with a wife, six children, and ten grandchildren. Accounts vary of what happened in between.

 

Photo: Vincent

Photo: Vincent

I.    In Tureberg there was a garden, a scent of hot cinnamon among the checkered lilies. A woman waved from a table. “Slow down!” she yelled between white hands. Around the table were two men, their brown jackets draped on their chairs like wilted leaves. They laughed, threw red liquid down their throats. “Have a drink!” the woman said. I smiled sheepishly. Sweat stung my eyes. I shook my head, but slowed my jog to a walk. I passed their gate.

    “Come, come,” the men called after me. “It’s our fika.” I looped around and jogged in place. “The gate’s unlocked.”

    On the table were cinnamon buns, nestled in cloth. There was raspberry saft, tart as lemonade, biscuits, coffee. Those white hands were everywhere. They metamorphose into white cranes and fly me to Hokkaido, where I see her in the snow.

 

II. 

    I first saw a Ford Model T two years ago in Tokyo, 1910. It had been ripped out the sky and wrapped around metal. It screamed in resistance. It tore down streets and crushed feet in its path. 

    I was a constellation molded around bone. I whipped down the track. I sweated stars and exhaled supernovas. I walked up steps in the sky and came down in Tokyo fifty years later.

    “We’ve been waiting,” a crowd of seventeen said.

III.

    The heat pouring into my lungs like Valium. My brow beating with sun, an interstellar pulse. 

    I fell asleep beneath a tree.

    An icy flask presses against my skin, and I catapult into wakefulness, the gun at the start of a race. 

    “Water?” I rasp.

    “Whiskey,” the man says.

    It’s cold black tea. 

    “I thought Japan was hotter than Sweden,” the man is saying. “But here you are, passed out.”

    “The sun followed me here.”

    “Well, bring it back. Nobody needs it.”

    I clasp his hand, he brings me to my feet. I pocket his flask. I run. I run to the edge of the country. I splash into the ocean and sink. 

    The sun follows me. It evaporates a path. Eels and fish thrash in my wake, and I kick them back into the water. The sun chases me onto dry land, drips down the horizon into the mouth of my wife. She swallows the sun. She puts glowing red arms around a white-hot belly. I turn the man’s flask upside down, and it drains into an emptying sea.