wisteria blooms


A month or so ago I took the train to Kyoto to meet up with the poets Kiyoko Ogawa (小川聖子) and Yoko Danno in order to go wisteria viewing and write renshi (連詩), or ‘linked poems.’  This particular series starts out with a verse by Masaoka Shiki.  Later, the poet and novelist Goro Takano (高野吾朗) joined the link via email, and within just a few days the downward motion of Shiki’s tendrils was met with the upward reaching verse of Yoko’s final stanza, closing the circle and creating an infinitely blooming loop.

1. Wisteria

瓶(かめ)にさす藤のはなぶさみじかければ たたみの上にとどかざりけり

Masaoka Shiki (1867-1902)

A cluster of blossoms
arranged in a vase
was not long enough
to touch on the tatami.
(trans. Kiyoko Ogawa)

2.Crazy Love

While struggling with ruthless routines,
I neglected to cherish a simple flower.
Alas, life is not long enough
to taste all the honey on earth.

— Kiyoko

3.Crazy Love: Part II

I designed to knit
a pullover for my love,
but the yarn is not long enough
to complete the pattern stitches.

— Yoko

4.At a Nursing Home

Staring at the trace of the stitches
on the old wound he’s got in his mind
all day, a white-haired man in a wheelchair
misses masses of flowers ahead.

— Goro

5. The Hole in the Vine

Masses of flowers are not enough,
even the green pulse said so, in the end
there is something in us that exceeds
into a void as pure as water.

— Trane

6. Awakening

Longing is as pure as
an awakening to the tattered
life that is not long enough
to reach heavens.

— Yoko

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