To the One Who Prays
by Yuu Mizuki
To the one who prays.
Have you already forgotten?
The path that we have traveled,
The path that led us here.
The distance covered, journeying the mountains, ridge after ridge and past the cries of the soul of many.
In this moment, what do you pray?
You know so well, your own powerlessness.
You gain your daily sustenance so effortlessly, go places where you wish freely, and fall asleep without disturbance. But just because this is so, you cannot share that with others, nor have the power to change the circumstance of those living in unknown foreign lands.
The world is covered with war, calamity, and poverty. In that distant place, bullets fly midair and landmines explode. In that distant place, children starve and epidemics fester. In that distant place, blood is shed, people stumble, violence is done. You cannot do anything about that.
The only thing you can do is to gather your thoughts and send your heart.
The only thing you can do is to pray.
The only thing you can do is to send your heart and pray.
So you pray.
As you make music.
As you paint.
As you prepare a meal for your loved one.
As you clean the windowsill and water the potted plant.
You pray, and send your heart.
Fully knowing that nothing will change, knowing you don’t have the power to change anything.
You know there is no hope left in this world, don’t you?
But I still listen.
The forests sing with the birds, and the wind whispers the fragrance of life,
since long before the time we were born.
But in you, something changes.
The one who paints.
The one who sings.
The one who prays.
Blue Sky, White Clouds
by Yuu Mizuki
I want to tell you about the land where I was born.
It’s in the countryside, where the mountains funnel into a valley, and the rivulets gather into a river and flow through the fields. There are small villages and gentle hills, and people have spent a long time working out their coexistence with these hills by creating gardens and rice fields on the slope.
I was born as the magnolias and cherry blossoms were ending and wisteria and princess trees were blooming into purple. The pathway down the skirt of the mountain slope was being painted all yellow with Japanese rose. Snow melted and flowed into the rice fields, and as it reflected the sky and warmed up in the sun, egrets started picking at frogs just having woken up from their hibernation, and children ran down the road alongside the fields while chewing sorrel stalks.
A while after I was born, I moved to a city with my family, but I always remembered the mountains and the fields. As I looked at the swallow’s nest under the edge of the roof, I would think about the skylark chicks I found in the grass in the fields. As I walked around town, I thought about how I would run down the mountainside with the wind. As I was surrounded and teased by the big neighborhood kids, I was alone, thinking about how I used to aim for Japanese trout in the streams.
I don’t regret leaving the village. I had no choice about it, and the city has a life of its own. But in the middle of the night, when I slip out from the backdoor and wander the empty park, my mind would fill with the swirls of light from the newly hatched fireflies, rising from the river in the valley.
Here I am, now, lying in the middle of the city. Under my body is the asphalt, burning hot from the sun. But I no longer feel even that.
As I chased my owner who was leaving to go shopping, a big chunk of steel ran over me and sped away.
What do I hear? Is it my owner’s voice, or the sound of the murmuring brook in the valley? This warm thing on my cheek, is it the owner’s tears or my own blood?
Soon, silence settles.
My body becomes light, and float lightly into the air. I see blue sky and white clouds.
I am headed to my woodland home, to the river and the valley where I was born. I will be buried in the soft soil by the fields, and I will become the woodland.
by Yuu Mizuki
Waiting for the sun to go down, we took off down the evening road.
We, meaning my sister who just started school and is four years younger, myself, my father, and my mother, the four of us.
The scent of the brief shower from earlier lingered, rising from the ground still reminiscent of the scorching summer sun. The smell of rain reminded us of the rice paddies we were headed to, and my sister and I were rather excited.
I’m carrying a bamboo broom, and my sister a paper fan. These are for catching the fireflies.
A few years ago, when my father built our new house at the very edge of this city, there was only a textile factory and rice fields just across the national road from us. But these days, the rice fields are turning into new houses.
Right around when I started school, I would often see manure fertilizer sprayed across the rice fields, but recently, there would be a hose-like white bag stretched across the field with two people scattering white chemical fertilizer. I stopped catching freshwater snails in the waterway between the fields because they disappeared with the chemical. Of course, as I got older, I thought that kind of activity was quite childish anyways.
When I used to sit on the balcony facing our garden, I would see fireflies fly across the garden pond, but even that has ceased. Fireflies stopped coming even to the edge of the city.
But I knew that in the waterways at the foot of the hills where they drew water from the water gate in the mountains, there were many fireflies still.
We cross the national road, and walk along the rice fields without too many houses nearby, heading towards the foot of the hills. The light starts to get dimmer and dimmer, and by the time we got to the foot of the hills, it was almost completely dark and hard to distinguish the boundary between the road and the rice fields.
“Watch you don’t fall in.”
Father tells us.
When I look up above, the night sky is brilliant with stars. Looking hard, I saw the milky way by the swan constellation.
It would be great if we could see a shooting star, I thought, but that wish didn’t come true. It was a little too early for the Perseids meteor shower season.
We arrived at our destination, by the waterway at the foot of the hills.
Without even waiting, we were already surrounded by the light from the fireflies. Blinking blue and white lights, they surround us, leaving unpredictable trails of light all around.
I can hear the sound of water from the nearby waterway. And from there, endless light rises. Newly hatched fireflies are dancing galore.
I waved my grass broom and caught some in the bristles, and gently transferred them into a small cage. Several. My sister waved her fan and got some to fall, caught them, and put them in the cage.
We caught ten plus fireflies that way, and went back down the dark roads to our house.
That night, my sister and I slept with the cage by our pillows. We had placed susuki grass in the cage and had dipped the whole thing into the pond to moisten it.
When we looked at the fireflies from under the cover, they kept blinking without any sound. We never got bored and kept watching.
I sensed a unique smell that slightly stung my nose. This is what fireflies smell like, I thought.
Looking at the light, I thought I would never fall asleep, but of course that wasn’t the case and I fell asleep without realizing so.
In the morning, when I woke up, all I could see of the fireflies in the sunlight were little dark pieces like charcoal dispersed between the susuki leaves.
I can’t remember what I did with the cage afterwards.
On the Way Home
by Yuu Mizuki
At night on my way home,
I now have a habit of stopping by the railroad tracks and looking up at the sky
Tokyo night sky is so bright
and I can only count few stars
As I listen to the trains pass by
I reflect on how
in my faraway hometown, stars abound in the sky
(The light on earth has ceased
all built things washed away
many souls have departed
and countless tears have been shed)
A moonless night
where spring is slipping away
I look for faint starlight
and ponder upon things that were lost
Even so, the wind blows
waves wash up
trees start to bud and grow into lush green
Even so, the stars shine
and dawn comes
Even so, people live on
and tears turn to smiles
In the morning, by this railroad track
and dogwood flowers are starting to bloom
Hydrangea might also blossom soon
2019年夏、絵と詩を描きました。 水城さん […]
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