At the beginning of September I came back to my birthplace. Nothing of my mother remained. The grass in front of mother’s room had withered in the frost. Everything had changed. The hair of my brother and sisters was white and they had wrinkles between their eyebrows. We could only say, “We are fortunate to be still alive.” Nothing more. My elder brother opened an amulet case and said reverently to me, “Look at mother’s white hair. You have come back after such a long time. So this is like the jewel box of Urashima Taro. Your eyebrows have become white.” We wept for a while and then I composed this verse:
if taken in my hand
it would vanish in hot tears
© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)
In September of 2010 after having been absent for about 40 years I returned to my birthplace in the United States. I flew home because my father had reached the last stages of cancer. To see him then, you would have thought that he would live forever but just a few short weeks after I left, he was gone.
Everything had changed so much from when I was a girl. The country itself seemed somehow weather-worn and tired … so run-down. It would have been hard to convince those ancient pioneers that this was the great land of opportunity, streets paved in gold.
I kissed my father for the last time before leaving for the airport to return home, he was in the hospital then. He said: “You know, I don’t think I’ll be returning your visit.” and I knew that he was telling me that he would die soon.
fallen on the pathway
a lonely walk
© G.s.k. ‘15