#12   March 2001

Spring has come!_____Poems of flowers by Reiko Niino

It was a wonderful news that one of my friends, Reiko Niino, living also in Karatsu, has published her first Tanka book. She has long been teaching Tea Ceremony, and learning Tanka only these ten years or so. Her Tanka teacher must have been amazed with Reiko's efforts and ability.
     Reiko Niino

 Reiko says in her book that this is a gift for herself to commemorate her 60 years of age.
 Reiko had never had a child, but now she feels as if she had given a childbirth.

 Here, I have picked up some Tankas of spring flowers, to express my best wishes for her new-born baby.
My translation is a free, and sometimes wild interpretation, because I believe that once poems were published, they were not the author's but they belong to the readers. So, Reiko's poems are now mine. I will fly on the wings of poems, freely and merrily, like the down of dandelion.
 And these translated ones are yours, if you like. Why don't you give me back one or two lines? It is a Japanese courtesy if someone sends you a poem you have to answer on the same topic or taking one or two words of the former one.
Isn't it somewhat like modern e-mail chat?
Now, you've got a Mail!

Sweet kiddies playing,
Sucking honey of pink Azaleas.
So I let myself join up.

Amid dark leaves, sunk low,
A hundred azaleas light
As many dim lanterns.

Mother and child,
Picking rape flowers on the bank,
In the red sunset.
Morrow's Doll Festival.

I hear the falling peony
Whisper to me,
"Are you living a true life
With empathy to the others?"

."Willow is green and flower's glee."
I am Myself when I make tea.

Happiness is found anywhere.
Here I am, satisfied,
With making a bowl of tea
Under the clusters of wisteria,

Beyond this bridge over the valley,
I will meet rhododendron.
And I know I will cross it
On the day I miss you.

God is surely here.
To make the camellia bloom
When the darling White-Eyes
Fly down to the field.

You keep me waiting, but I have no pain.
Aged enough to enjoy the evening blossoms
In the forest of the shrine of my old home town.

You will see Reiko's eyes are so warm on the nature, children, and other people.
She is strict to herself as a teacher of Tea Ceremony, but she is a gentle nurse to her husband, an ever-sweet daughter to her old mother, and above all, she is a graceful Japanese woman.

 I hope you have enjoyed meeting Reiko. Please forgive me for my poor translation and poor photographing.
See you in April!

                                                  Mail to Harumi Okochi