Junzaburo Nishiwaki Poems >>
Sound


Let us go

humming a tune,

putting on our sneakers.

The gentle lady of Itabashi1

-- the edge of her kimono

-- clouds, golden

-- green temple roof tiles.

Winds of countless years

-- through a weir

spring passing,

its vase

darkening . . .

At such dusk

again

a trailing mist

-- a golden

green

endless ocean of wheat.

Within its murmur

sleeps

a night

-- so short.

In the shallow water of

the curving Sumida River at Toda,2

the shadows of white chimneys quiver.

I listen among the grass on this riverbank:

on the sparrow-peas3 and sour-leaves4

the rouge of a water spirit remains.

There are no violets, though.

Girls have wiped them out.

Capital-birds5 do not come this far either.

A letter written in pale asagi ink

is lying abandoned.

Darrell6 is no longer in Paris,

gone to India to learn magic.

Summer hath come.

The undergarments of those suffering denizens

of the banks of this Ara River

are put out to dry in the sun.

The colors of ancient lingerie have also faded.

In Yamato7

the blossoms of four-hand-cherry8 or three-leaf-azalea9 also have

become a mere memory inside a traveler's hat.

If one goes to Yoshino10,

bean pods and cloths sway with the music

from an arrowroot flute.

What about the Pascal illness

of a nun showing us around,

tilting her head slightly?

Her head is shaven violet.

The monkey of Tsubosaka11,

under the evening sun,

on the red clay garden

with a broom

draws Pythagoras' dual circles

and laments over the spheres of love and hatred.

-- for humans, ghosts of poppy flowers . . .

Even a young fern

grows large leaves.

A beggar curses at

the impermanence of nature.

Having fallen onto this green world

his lips turn green,

his teeth grow whiter.

Only the twilight remains in humans.

Reminiscing

the longings of one thousand years

in the voices of evening-cicadas.

Human history

is merely a history of twilight.

The sound of footsteps --

a carpenter following a bright evening star.

The sound of a water-wagtail

beating a rock with its tail

ceases.

The sorrowful sorrowful

heart longing for a woman

-- the murmur of a stream.

Thinking about a man

-- wanting to bear a child.

Within the darkness of people

drunk with the harvest sake,

within the light

of a hazelnut,

my lover's heart

is revealed.

Her embarrassed heart

-- so feminine

-- the movement of a fetus

of a water-sprite12.

Such joy joy

Autumn's joy joy

God's joy

A bulbul's joy

flying across a cobalt-blue sky

dropping a white liquefied sweet acorn.

That sound of my home village

-- the sound of a departing man

-- the sound of mountains

-- the sound of a bittersweet seed

embedded in the skin of an akebi-fruit

now being spat out of a tongue sticking out.

Nostalgia for the departing one13:

into the mountain

where monkeys cry

a man gets lost

looking for a frostbitten yellow chrysanthemum

in a bamboo grove.

The stone marker

in Akahito's14 village is also . . .

one's life destined to die tomorrow is also . . .

the murmur of tears

-- the murmur of autumn geese

-- a tale of flowering fortunes15 . . .

Without knowing

I am again using the village dialect.

Within the darkness of seeds

in a crooked vine pod

in the field where colors have died away,

remains the human sap sweet and sour.

Suffering humans

licking oil that collects under a duck's wing

wait for the fish to close its eyes.

One summer day, I ate vinegary jelly noodles at Sakamoto.

Ants are still crawling in the dream of that day.

I must announce my departure

from the human language.

Where the hell is she coming back from?

-- a dame wearing splashed-pattern Japanese pants and long boots,

riding a bike on a shortcut path through a chestnut grove.

Does she have a voice superior

to a mermaid's sigh?

When the tapestry curtain

hanging over the horizon

rises,

what kind of comedy awaits us?

The Merry Devil of Edmonton?

As I step into the entrance,

inside, on a stone board in the nocturnal darkness

a goddess drawn with white lines of chalk,

her bellybutton exposed,

is lying,

offering a white goblet.

I hear

the meeting of island gods

speaking Greek dialects.

It's about the masque

for the Osiris festival this spring:

"Let us expel flutes.

Let us use platinum harps only."

I am bored with human words.

Let me just use gods' language.

The sound of an apple slightly touching the table.

The sound of a spoon falling onto the carpet.

The sound of a plum rolling into the bush of wild vines.

The sound of coins

of the sound within a sound within a sound.

The sound of an eggplant chafing against an empty can

in a beggar's bag.

How about the sound of a lotus flower opening?

"Oh, way too townsman-esque . . ."

A gudgeon in the dirt with its eyes wide open

is waiting for larks to arrive,

without stirring,

waiting for sorrels to blossom again on the riverbanks.

Oh, I must go somewhere, eh?

Let us open the window.

Let us sing a departing song

with a small carp and sake. . .