“A Bad Quarrel”, from “Song of the Nightingale”

Song Book cover

I should have looked at the manuscript before I posted yesterday’s verse for d’versepoets pub.  Apparently I had forgotten this episode.  So….I’m posting it now.  It ‘fleshes out’ a bit about Lady Nyo and her husband.




Life with Lord Nyo was not easy. A general in the service of his Daimyo Lord Mori, his life was not his own. For thirty years he had devotedly served him, leading men onto the battlefield, his two swords cutting a swath through the enemy. Most battles he was away from his home and wife for months. When his Lord Daimyo took it into his head to raid other territory, Lord Nyo could be gone for as long as a year.

Lady Nyo, as was expected, was an obedient wife, devoted to her Lord husband and their Daimyo. But life was tumultuous with Lord Nyo. Almost two decades of marriage had frayed the warp and weave of this fabric and patience had become thin.

After a bad quarrel initiated by Lord Nyo (who had a temper as dangerous as black powder), Lady Nyo took to her journal, and in a curious code, composed herself and wrote some poems for her eyes only. Those poor eyes were swollen from sleeplessness and excessive tears, but her mind was as steady as a well-shot arrow. Even her nursemaid, her lifelong confident, could not read her code, for in these things Lady Nyo trusted no one.

If not proper to express anger to her husband, the leaves of her journal would not deny. They would hold her sentiments and even the great Lord Jizo would smile with mercy on her troubled soul.

With no solace or comfort except for the journal, she carefully buried it beneath the azaleas in the garden. Perhaps the sweet smelling flowers in early spring would dissolve the rancor burrowing in her heart.


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 I am.


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 the hands of the clock, I would give up those moments of life To restore lost harmony…. But I dare not look this morning.


It is raining outside, It is raining within. Do you think I care about that? What happened has disrupted 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 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 and 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 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 Everything sharp-edged– Eyes were hardened steel, Mouth a grim line of dead cinders…. But my hands are now steady.


Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2011-2016  Song of the Nightingale is published by Amazon.com, 2015




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