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”

The Ronin and Kitsune – Free Verse (NaPoWriMo – April 28, 2014)

wordle7In the midnight forest,
walked ronin Sashimi Shiro
Katana at hand he stalked
Looking for new victims to be slain…
The Kami were disturbed
By the goal that he had set …
To chop down piteously,
Anyone he met!
“Kitsune come to us,
For we have a mission for you!
Go into the forest
And trick that callous ronin now!”

Kitsune took the graceful form,
Of a stunning Geisha then,
And called out  for some assistance
From her mighty friend, Fūjin,
To interpret her loyal Yojimbo,
Thus disguised
They set upon thier journey.

There among some palms,
They finally met Sashimi Shiro …
Who jumped out of his hiding
Shouting words of folly and blood
Waving his katana high.
He stopped short of a sudden …
His soliloquy died in his throat!
He just could not go on …
Shouting his monotonous contention,
That death should be the penitence paid,
For walking in the forest.

” Konbanwa, Samurai Sama!”
Kitsune said and bowed,
“Why do you wish to kill me
As I journey through the forest?”

“I am a mighty samurai …
My Daimyo gave unto me this mission,
To slay all who pass by here
Until he sends word to me.”

“And who then is this callous master
Who has transformed you, thus?
You are a monstrous red letter
of death,
A bloody kanji of horror
The kigo of certain death?”

“Alas … my Daimyo rests
Upon the sacred winds
For these were his last orders
As his days of battle ended.
This in truth is my penitence
I pay for my disloyal service …
I was his Yojimbo,
I failed in my holy assignment …
I would have committed seppuku,
If he’d not given me this order!
And yet, I am so weary
Doing this macabre service
I would die most willingly
But cannot lose my honor now!”

Kitsune put her palms together…
her gasho was low with respect
As she said these words to him:
“Honorable Yojimbo,
Please listen to my words,
If you were to fall in battle,
Bushido would be honorably served…
I offer you then this chance
To free you from your pain…
Fight now in loyalty
With my faithful body-guard.”

The battle, furiously took place
In a clearing of the forest
Kami against ronin …
The contention could only end one way …
Sashimi Shiro was cut in half
A smile upon his face.

Written for Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie Wordle Prompt