haru tatsu-to hakuseiya-yori futoki kemuri
the day that spring begins
pouring from the taxidermist
thick column of smoke
Hiryoshi Tagawa (1914-1999)
Walking through the town in the chill air on the day that spring officially begins, the poet comes across a thick column of smoke rising up into the sky. Into the clean, crisp air the smoke rises, but from where does it come? My goodness, it comes from a taxidermist! The poet, not familiar with the art of taxidermy, stands there wondering what is making the smoke. Are they burning the flesh and innards of the animals they have stuffed, perhaps? Are the animals' souls being carried by the smoke into the heavens? They will come back to Earth again in a new reincarnation and with a fresh start, just like the new start that the first day of spring promises.
Selected, translated and commented on by Dhugal J. Lindsay