I haven’t figured out how to include these short poems by the Lady Nyo in the almost completed “The Nightingale’s Song” but they should be. It’s hard, because the 10 or so poems are ‘long’ poems, not exactly choka, but they tell the tale of the life of Lord and Lady Nyo in 17th century Japan. Perhaps I can weave these short poems (not tanka) into the general tale, but it will take some doing.
The present Lady Nyo, having no quarrel with her husband.
My soul was blossoming,
Secure in your protective shadow.
I stumbled upon this road we walked
And all was suddenly lost.
Perhaps the fault was I did not
Tightly grip your hand?
Like a ghost under water
Only the moon gives illumination.
Throw a pebble there
And see how fragmented am I.
I can’t look in the mirror
when I awake.
(My eyes swollen with last night’s sobs
my pillow filled like a lake.)
If I could turn back time,
I would give up those moments of life
To restore lost harmony.
I dare not face my mirror this morning.
It is raining outside,
It is raining within.
Do you think I care about that?
all the essentials of life.
Who opened the window?
Who let the bees in?
They are the life
I am avoiding.
Their legs have honey on them!
Too sweet for my present mind.
Outside is a tender spring.
Inside it might as well be winter.
There is no warmth today
Generated by memory.
I am told this is a little death
I will have to bear.
Perhaps I don’t want it to end?
Then the thought of living without you,
Or the threat of living With you…..
Would upset my self- pity.
There is nothing from you today,
But then, it was I who moved afar.
I did this from self-hatred,
But found there was enough to spread around.
When I get to the anger
you will know I am recovering.
Not nicely, there will always be scars
and jagged edges,
tokens of our long time together.
Do you feel any of this pain?
No, perhaps not.
My laughter is as hollow
as that stricken tree by the pond.
I have not laughed for a long time.
It strangles in my throat.
This morning I awoke,
the first time in days,
my eyes were hardened steel,
my mouth a grim line of dead embers,
But my hands are now steady.
Copyrighted, 2010, 2013