May Landscapes

In a black and white photo my father took
when I didn’t even know fear or sadness
my brother and I
beamed in front of our vine roses.

By the time I was wearing some lipstick
I had said hello to sadness
and goodbye to someone.
My heart felt empty.
I no longer thought about our red roses.
I had to forget in order to live.

When I wrote “roses”
in kanji characters,
my landscape began to inch along.
Our small son hanging on to
my husband’s arm and mine
looked up and asked us a question
overflowed with love.
As my landscape was sliding by
I began to put our roses in a vase.

Our children had grown up and gone away.
In the remaining hours
my brother and I had
our photo taken together again
in front of the roses shining in the sun
as we caressed
the hours we had swallowed.

Blinded by the glow of our roses
both of us had our hearts swaying
knowing that our lives would fade away someday.
As we flashed our smiles,
we cast shadows on the black and white photo from that time.
The perfume of our roses gently wrapped our distant memories.

MITSUKO TAKAYASU was born in 1945 in Nagano and now lives in Chiba. She started writing poetry in her twenties. She is the author of two collections of poetry, Kikoetekuru shuu (1975) and Choka (1998). More recently, Toshiya Kamei has published English translations of Mitsuko's poems in The Bitter Oleander and Visions International. TOSHIYA KAMEI holds an MFA in Literary Translation from the University of Arkansas. He is the translator of books by Claudia Apablaza, Naoko Awa, Liliana Blum, Selfa Chew, Espido Freire, and Leticia Luna.