Poem #19

The mourning dove sings, “Who?”

Hototogisu naku koe kikeba wakarenishi furusato sae zo koishikarikeru

from Kokinshū, Summer, no. 146

What is the etymology
of regret?
In these summer days
of fallen rain,
dear mourning dove,
I find your song so hard to bear
in my bed, alone.
From the scent of a tulip
in my nares I remember
my forefinger and my thumb
uncoil a lock of her red hair from my beard.
The mourning dove sings, “Who?”
O love, how you die so soon;
without the honey of labor
nor home of one’s own
there is no sun and tree,
there is no star and moon.


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