Tuesday, 20 April 2021

Underground - Ito Hiromi

A bond was formed through marriage so in August
I go visit the graves for the Festival of the Dead. Going from the bullet train
To the Chugoku Highway, I move farther and farther away
From Tokyo and my own parents. Around the graves
Brown and green walking-sticks, tiger beetles, and mosquitoes
Proliferate. Different kinds of cicadas too.
The white wooden memorial tablet of my mother
(In-law) stands as it has from the time of her burial
Where my father (in-law) placed it over the gravestone.
The movements of my father (in-law) are sluggish. He washes
The grave with maddening slowness. In the next grave
Are two siblings born a year apart. Two mounds
Of earth pulled over parallel coffins are protected
By a wooden roof that has changed color from the rain.
The mounds of earth softly rot away six years
Of the children’s lives underneath. Someone
Has stuck a yellow school umbrella there. I use their
Posthumous Buddhist names, each with one extra character,
To imagine the real names the two children used for their six years.
My father (in-law) squashes a walking-stick underfoot and
Continues washing the grave. Meanwhile, I think of how
Tokyo, my own parents, my father (in-law), my husband, and
I will lie under this grave.

Ito Hiromi (born 1955) Japan
Translated by Jeffrey Angles
Source: Poetry Kanto

No comments:

Post a comment

Please keep your comments relevant and free from abusive language. Thank you. Note that comments are moderated so it may be a day or two before your comment is posted - irrelevant or abusive comments will not be published.