after Kotaro Takamura

In a rainstorm,
Soaked to the bone.

I buy a packet of rice,
For 24 sen and 5 rin,
5 dried fish,
A pickled radish,
Red pickled ginger,
Fresh eggs,
Seaweed dried in steel-flat sheets,
Fried fish balls,
And salted bonito.

We boil water for tea,
Bolt down supper, famished.

Outside the storm rages into monsoon,
Beating at the roof tiles;
The whole house rattles to the bone.

Our hunger, unbounded,
Is bred, too, in the bone; and thus we sup
Until our souls are full to brimming,
Until, hands clasped, we find
Our hearts in fervor steeped:
And we pray

May we find fullness in the smallest things
May we let light shine abundant on every detail
May we allow our lives to always be overflowing
And may we always be full

Thus, our communion convenes
A power more formidable than the storm,
Stirring in us this mysterious
Sacrament of flesh. Each to each,
We consecrate our bodies,
Phosphorescent in rain.

This pauper's supper,
When night falls, our sustenance.


  1. Leanne Ogasawara, through her wonderful translations, introduced me to the poet Kotaro Takamura and the Chieko poems.

    The poems are a milestone in modern Japanese poetry, tracing Takamura's life with Chieko Naganuma, an iconoclastic woman artist - their attraction, separation, marriage, his coming to terms with her illness and death, and the power of love.

    My work is more of an adaptation, an attempt to interpret the various translations through a poet's sensibilities. My hope is that this introduces more readers to Takamura's poetic legacy.

    Short link -

  2. Oh, this is absolutely beautiful! I love the message, the prayer, and the sentiment. Your translation and your introduction to Takamura's poetry is a true blessing and treasure.

  3. Thank you Samuel, for a window into Takamura's poetry. This adaptation is lovely & pulls me into a moment of timeless intimacy, hunger & gratitude.

  4. Thanks so much. I love the several translations of Kotaro Takamura, but I felt that I could say something a little different, so I'm glad my rendition works in some way.

  5. This is so beautiful, Samuel. Very evocative imagery. Bravo!

  6. Much appreciated! It is always a difficult line to walk, staying true to the original literal intent but selecting words and imagery that have perhaps different - but supportive - connotations in the English language.


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