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Trail: IzumiShikibu




When the autumn wind
blows down from Tokiwa Mountain,
my body fills, as if blushing,
with the colour and scent
of pine.

As I dig for wild orchids
in the autumn fields,
it is the deeply-bedded root
that I desire,
not the flower.

When the water-freezing
winter arrives,
the floating reeds look rooted,
as if stillness
were their own desire.

In the autumn, on retreat at a mountain temple

Although I try
to hold the single thought
of Buddha’s teaching in my heart,
I cannot help but hear
the many cricket’s voices calling as well.

When I was thinking not to age any longer in this world, I saw a small child:

It is easy
to hate this painful world,
but how can I leave
a world
that includes this child?

Believed to be Izumi Shikibu’s final poem, written on her deathbed:

The way I must enter
leads through darkness to darkness ---
O moon above the mounain’ rim,
please shine a little farther
on my path.

Poems Mourning Naishi (Shikibu’s daughter)

Around the time when Naishi died, snow fell, then melted away:

Why did you vanish
into empty sky?
Even the fragile snow,
when it falls,
falls in this world.

During the memorial service for my daughter:

Listen, listen:
longing and loss.
In the struck bell’s
recurrent calling,
no moment in which to forget.