Mariko Kitakubo

                                      Like Drifting Down, Piling Up     


                                                          So very little difference
                                                          between life and death―
                                                          they are long and slender,
                                                          the fingertips
                                                          of God

                                                          after the deep fog
                                                          of brain death,
                                                          on the grassy plains
                                                          might her heart wander?

                                                          tonight as I
                                                          hull kidney beans
                                                          the stone
                                                          engraved with her name
                                                          is growing cold

                                                          in her gaze
                                                          glinting flecks of sand―
                                                          Mother whom now
                                                          I am permitted to meet
                                                          only in dreams

                                                          wondering whether
                                                          further along this gentle curve
                                                          are life and death,
                                                          I see nothing but empty plains
                                                          in the train window

                                                          I am like a child
                                                          worn out from calling
                                                          its mother's name,
                                                          my sweat and tears
                                                          dripping straight down

                                                          the same way
                                                          words which I am
                                                          powerless to convey
                                                          drift down, pile up,
                                                          autumn now approaches


                               From On This Same Star: Selections from the Tanka Poetry Collection Will,
by Mariko Kitakubo, translated by Amelia Fielden.

                                       In Japan, poems about death and dying are called banka.



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