Call and Answer to Ono no Komachi

Tanka Presentation Illustration, Feb, 11

-Ono no Komachi’s appear first, mine (as answering) appear in italics.

Lady Nyo

Did he appear
Because I fell asleep
Thinking of him?
If only I’d known I was dreaming
I’d never have awakened.

“How long will it last?
I know not his hidden heart.
This morning my thoughts
Are as tangled as my hair.
My blushes turn my face dark.”

When my desire
Grows too fierce
I wear my bed clothes
Inside out,
Dark as the night’s rough husk.

No moon tonight
Only a cold wind visits
Murasaki robe
Stained the color of grass
Invisible on this earth.

At least no one can blame me
When I go to you at night
Along the road of dreams.

Come to me, my man,
Part the blinds and come into my arms,
Snuggle against my warm breast
And let my belly
Warm your dreams.

One of her most famous poems:

No way to see him
On this moonless night—
I lie awake longing, burning,
Breasts racing fire,
Heart in flames.

When my needing you
Burns my breasts-torments me
I tear open robes
To lie naked in moonlight
The wind your hands, caressing


Night deepens
With the sound of calling deer,
And I hear
My own one-sided love.’

Autumn wind startles–
Lowered to an ominous
Key—Ah! Mournful sounds!
The fat mountain deer listen-
Add their bellowing sorrow.

The cicadas sing
In the twilight
Of my mountain village—
Tonight, no one
Will visit save the wind.

Tonight, foxes scream
Cued by a howling wind.
Maple leaves quilting
A lonely time of season
No one to share the moonlight.


A diver does not abandon
A seaweed-filled bay.
Will you then turn away
From this floating, sea-foam body
That waits for your gathering hands?

So lonely am I
My soul like a floating weed
Severed at the roots
Drifting upon cold waters
No pillow for further dreams.


All Komachi poems were compiled from the Man’yoshu and the book, “The Ink Dark Moon”, by Hirshfield and Aratani.

Poems in Italics were mine.

Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2018


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