That morning you had reassured me

(after Yosa Buson)

Daybreak at unexplored region - 32401919640_7f291b4e64_z

That morning you had reassured me
before we said goodbye.
At evening my heart was in a thousand pieces
and the pieces scattered.

Thinking of you, I wandered.
The world had been so full of you
it didn’t occur to me to wonder
that the hills themselves were in mourning:

Pathfinder in shade, prairie stars white in sun –
and no one to look at them.
I heard a pheasant calling and calling

Crossing the river, I thought:
once you lived on the other side.

You left in the evening,
at morning my heart was still,
my heart that you had steadied,
in a thousand pieces.

Ghostly smoke rises a little before
the north wind that blows it away
across the deadgrass fields,
through the winter-stripped coppices.

Once you lived across the river;
You were everywhere, like smoke,
like memory, so when you are gone,
who can I be, stripped of a past?

I stripped dead leaves from branches
wove a hut to sit in
sat there alone all day
and long into the invaluable evening.

A misprision of Mourning for Hokujurosen by the Japanese poet Yosa Buson. (1716-1783). A more faithful translation (with notes) by Ken Blacklock. Another translation.

The original.

Japanese text - Mourning for Hokujurosen

Image: Daybreak at unexplored region, by Flickr user k.isikawa_G3, published under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) license.

Most pheasants move less than 2 miles between summer and winter range.” Like you didn’t already know that….

Rest in peace, Mom.

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