Mountain Moving Day by Yosano Akiko

This week in poetry class we’ve been doing American haiku and perhaps the less well known form of tanka. For many years I wrote many tanka, few haiku, and then a few years ago it shifted. Both forms are exquisite, but tanka takes me straight to Akiko Yosano, the Japanese feminist.

Disregarding right and wrong,

The next world,

We face each other

Loving and loved.
(From TANGLED HAIR by Akiko Yosano– published in l901. Translated by Sanford Goldstein and Seishi Shinoda, Cheng & Tsui 2002.)

You have yet to touch

This soft flesh,

This throbbing blood –

Are you not lonely,

Expounder of the Way?

(yawahada no atsuki chishio ni furemomide
sabishikarazuya michiwo toku kimi)

I wrote these tanka, thinking of hers:

snow on the mountain
late this year
I try
to tell myself
my drought has ended.

election day—
still yellow leaves,
where will this sculpture
of a Navajo woman
be in a thousand years?

She also wrote less structured free verse. I had hoped to publish this in a more festive mood with different election results, but it is still one of my favorite poems.

The mountain moving day is coming
I say so, yet others doubt.
Only a while the mountain sleeps.
In the past
All mountains moved in fire
Yet you may not believe it.
Oh man this alone believe,
All sleeping women
Now will awake and move.

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