The Affair by Yoshihara Sachiko (情事/吉原幸子)

In the evening, while I was swimming
across from the shore to the diving board,
I happened to find myself heading
directly in the path of the setting sun.

The platform, completely enveloped in the halo,
became a slender bone in silhouette that looked like it would soon burn down,
and the tepid waves ahead
violently rose up and assaulted me,
just like the sunset drifting over,
coming to swallow me whole.

But I also swallowed the waves and the sun.
I became the water, became the salt,
became a golden fish,
and for the first time in a long while, I thought,
(I am alive).

*

What falls in the sea but never gets wet? — The setting sun.
It’s a good riddle.
But the sun does get wet.
That’s why you can hear it moaning.
Letting her burning lover come inside,
the sea swells and writhes
and flows with blood like a virgin girl.

In this endlessly repeated
moment of dazzling intercourse,
I feel my chest tighten as I gaze in wonder,
and I can’t at all remember
even the smallest of things.

Tomorrow, when the sun is born,
the sea will flow with blood once more,
like a new mother.

* * *

夕方のその時刻 その岸辺から
飛込台にむかって泳ぐと
たまたま わたしのゆくては
入日と重なるのだった

櫓はすっぽりと光背に包まれ
いまにも焼け落ちさうな ほそい骨のシルエットになり
なまあたたかい波が 真向から
はげしく わたしを襲う
まるで 入日が吹きおくるやうに
わたしを食べにくるやうに

そしてわたしも波と日を食べた
わたしは水になり 塩になり
金いろの魚になり
〈いま 生きてゐる〉
と 久しぶりに思ふ

*

海に落ちても濡れないものは?―夕日。
いいなぞなぞです
でもあれは濡れるのだ
だからじゅうっと音がきこえる
燃えてゐる恋人を迎へ入れながら
海はうねり 身もだえ
をとめのやうに血を流す

果てしなくくり返された
このまばゆい交合の瞬間に
わたしは胸ぐるしくみとれる ほとんど
わたしがとても小さいといふことさへ
思い出さない

あした 太陽を産むとき
海は もういちど血を流すだらう
母のやうに

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Confession by Yoshihara Sachiko (告白 / 吉原幸子)

The moment confession was over
I saw your reflection on the cross

How many times have I said “goodbye”?
How many times have I said “this time”?
And how many times
Have I been fruitlessly and bitterly mistaken? —

This isn’t the first time
I’ve broken a glass
This isn’t the first time
I’ve written in red!

We’ve been through so many
Painful farewells
And endless beginnings
But I still believed
So I kept searching

I place my bets on “this time”
And offer up “goodbye” as sacrifice
But my sacrifices
Are getting fat
God, too, is fat
Only I have become impoverished
You stare with your dark eyes
At the one terrifying tribute left behind

Yes, your reflection on the cross
From now on
You will be punished for my sins
You will feel the pain of my wounds

–That is beginning without end

NOTES:

Original poem found at ポエムコンシェルジュとさがす詩の世界.

The Season That Follows Passion by Yoshihara Sachiko (恋のあとの季節 / 吉原幸子)

There is a cat
Sitting very still
Watching the garden, the rain, the night
His face looks deep in thought
(Has he just remembered something?)

A cat can
Simply be
And that
Is gift enough for me

He trusts people and is content
If passion is hurting
And love is healing
Then this must be love
It isn’t passion
It’s the same with people
They hunger and desire
And when their sand castle is complete
The passion is over
But that is the beginning
Of love, full of silence

Passion, for people and for cats,
Is just a sickness in our pesky hormones,
He reflects, bittersweetly

He just stretches out all day long
But he’s still getting older
All of you will die in your turn
Will you bear it out?
Or . . . ?

Muttering,
You shut yourself up in the bedroom and lie down
But you want to be near somebody
So you scratch your nails on the wooden door
Skritch-skritch, skritch-skritch
Like trying to claw your way
Out from under the lid of a coffin
The way cats do

NOTES:

Original poem found at ポエムコンシェルジュとさがす詩の世界.

Sunset by Yoshihara Sachiko (日没 / 吉原幸子)

 Clouds sink
 I want to be with you
 
 Birds burn
 I want to be with you

 Tides fall
 I want to be with you

 Soon now
 Everything will be one

  Fingers trace
  Between the odorless hours
  Death trembles

 Ants sleep
 I want to be with you

 Winds stumble
 I want to be with you

 Soon now
 My dreams will end

 Everything is
 Silent

* * *

 雲が沈む
 そばにゐてほしい

 鳥が燃える
 そばにゐてほしい
 
 海が逃げる
 そばにゐてほしい

 もうぢき
 何もかもがひとつになる
 
  指がなぞる
  匂わない時間の中で
  死がふるへる

 蟻が眠る
 そばにゐてほしい
 
 風がつまづく
 そばにゐてほしい

 もうぢき
 夢が終わる

 何もかもが
 黙る  

NOTES:

Yoshihara Sachiko (1932-2002) was a major 20th-century Japanese poet.

In An Instant by Yoshihara Sachiko (ふ と / 吉原幸子)

In An Instant

Some   very important word
was on the tip of my tongue
when out of the corner of my left eye
white peonies
suddenly   unbearably
scattered   in such a tragic way
and when I turned back
along with the flower petals
just like that   the word went away
It always happens   like this
important things just   slip away
like love
and moments of beauty
and even secrets   never revealed
All around me
there are spies
so I’ve started working   on a new cipher
to hide the bodies   of my dead words

ふ と

なにか とてもだいじなことばを
憶ひだしかけてゐたのに
視界の左すみで
白い芍薬の花が
急に 耐へきれないやうに
無惨な 散りかたををしたので
ふり向いて
花びらといっしょに
そのまま ことばは 行ってしまった
いつも こんなふうに
だいじなものは 去ってゆく
愛だとか
うつくしい瞬間だとか
何の秘密も 明かさぬままに
さうして そこらぢゅうに
スパイがゐるので
わたしはまた 暗号をつくりはじめる
ことばたちの なきがらをかくして

Yoshihara Sachiko (1932-2002) was a major 20th-century Japanese poet. I first discovered her voice several years ago through nine of her poems that were translated by James Kirkup in Modern Japanese Poetry (1978). Some of her poems have also appeared in other Japanese poetry anthologies, including Women Poets of Japan (1977), translated by Kenneth Rexroth and Ikuko Atsumi.

Yoshihara Sachiko graduated from the University of Tokyo in 1956 with a degree in French literature. In 1964, her first book of poetry, Childhood Litany (幼年連祷), was published. Other collections include Fish, Dogs, Girls (魚たち・犬たち・少女たち, 1975), The Day I Saw the Blackbird (ブラックバードを見た日, 1986), and Luminescence (発光, 1995).