Winter Winds – Choka – August 12, 2015

- Natalia Drepina

– Natalia Drepina

Winter Winds

[Listen to my tale
of the maid and kami fox –
a sad sad love song
and how winter winds are born
and then off to bed]
listen – in the beginning
Ai* in her innocence
walked along the cold river
gathering berries
weaving a crown of bright red
through the darkened woods
she walked inside her own light –
the fox Inari watched her
fascinated by her walk
he called to her
in velvety kami tones
she saw him and smiled –
his coat was as black as night
he was attractive
powerful his demeanour
he offered her thorns
to add to her bright red crown
gratefully she smiled at him
accepting his gift
he offered her burnt cinders
to paint her white hands
said she’d be pretty
so she washed her hands in black –
his shadow grew long
thus hiding her inner light
until she was dark
like a cloudy moonless night –
once she became dark
all covered in thorns and soot
his interest did stray
so he cast her on the dust heap
looking for new prey

her song lilts at night
you hear it in the winter
with the winds you hear
when going to the river
– abandoned Inari’s lovers.

© G.s.k. ‘15

*Ai – 愛 – love, affection

Originally, the choka or long poem* was an epic poem relating deeds of honour and other stories, it was more often than not sung and many were passed down orally in that form.  It was a form borrowed from the Chinese (in Japanese waka) – as were many other things in those far off days, including writing and Buddhism!

When I saw Neeraj’s Photo Challenge … a song came to mind and I thought I’d write the tale of the male fox (a common kami or demon figure in Japanese mythology is the fox – we usually hear about feminine form – Kitsune of whom I’ve written a bit about – I chose to call my fox, Inari  – as a sort of male counterpart of Kitsune ) and his abandoned lover – I hope you enjoy the choka form in the place of a normal free-verse or European prosodic style.

*Carpe Diem Tokubetsudesu – Choka (or Nagauta), Japanese “long poem”