even my morning glories
not wanting to show
their sleep-mussed hair. ~Ono no Komachi*
The Ink Dark Moon
Trans: Jane Hirshfield with Mariko Aratani
flutters past–my body feels
the dust of ages ~Issa
my father also
studied these high mountains
from his winter hut ~Issa
At the threshold of stillness within silence, the scent of mothballs signals the opening of a small steamboat trunk entrusted with long-forgotten memorabilia. Carefully placed upon a layer of women’s 1930 era clothing are three stacks of yellow ribbon-tied envelopes. Within each are hand-written letters reminiscent of second grade penmanship inquiring, “Dear Mother, how are you? Fine I hope.” On the left side is a stationery box filled with certificates of marriage, birth, baptism, and death intermingled with a child’s brilliantly colored drawings. Beneath the box is a small silk sachet holding a solitary diamond engagement ring and an ivory locket. At the bottom of the trunk, children’s books and wooden blocks with carved letters surround a miniature wooden rocking chair and a one-button eyed velvety-patched teddy bear. I become distracted from the remaining contents as black and white photograph images softly held within the folds of a woman’s garnet silk dress glide in the air and scatter upon the floor.
The photographic images are a visual memoir of a young family where trust once allowed two young sisters to roam free throughout a field of tall, yellowed grass. “How many days,” my questioning mind wonders, “how many days were left before the decline of my father’s health shifted the lights of a colorful present into the gray-shaded time of waiting?” Within this stillness of waiting, memory tells of a young child seeking solace through repetitive rocking behaviors and of a father’s fragile heart enduring a turbulent wait for a donated aorta.
Loving-kindness and compassion soften the shield around my heart and I begin to feel how my father intuitively knew of my inner turmoil and of the tranquil stillness within rhythmic repetition. His gift of a rocking chair tells me some fifty years after his death of the multiple emotional and physical sufferings within his suffering, the interconnectedness of the suffering within the family, and of his wish to ease our suffering.
The 22nd of February is the anniversary of my father’s birth; his memory hidden within silence.
this world of dew
is only the world of dew `
and yet … oh and yet … ~ Issa
Issa haiku cited in:
The Spring of My Life and Selected Haiku
Trans: Sam Hamill
the storm came one night, you see
the thunder came and fell the tree
falling, falling became the tree
and a shell of a thing came to be
A small shell of a thing you, you see
flying high above the sea.
there is no alighting upon the sea, you see
for a shell of a thing above the sea
searching, searching for her tree
that fell the night she came to be
weary, tired … flying, flying above the sea
wishing for all to see.
“oh, how brave! how marvelous she is to be!
as she flies so high above the sea!”
blind to their eyes, she is to be
wings flying, trying so hard to be
above the torment of the sea
for there is no rest above the sea
only the falling, falling tree, you see.