Sans soleil

He wrote me: coming back through the Chiba coast
I thought of Shonagon's list,

of all those signs one has only to name
to quicken the heart, just name.

To us, a sun is not quite a sun unless it's radiant,
and a spring not quite a spring unless it is limpid.

Here to place adjectives would be so rude
as leaving price tags on purchases.

Japanese poetry never modifies.
There is a way of saying boat, rock, mist, frog, crow,
hail, heron, chrysanthemum, that includes them all.

Newspapers have been filled recently
with the story of a man from Nagoya.

The woman he loved died last year and he drowned himself in work
¬óJapanese style¬ólike a madman.

It seems he even made an important discovery in electronics.
And then in the month of May he killed himself.
They say he could not stand hearing the word 'Spring.'
He described me his reunion with Tokyo:
like a cat who has come home from vacation in his basket
immediately starts to inspect familiar places.

He ran off to see if everything was where it should be:
the Ginza owl, the Shimbashi locomotive, the temple of the fox
at the top of the Mitsukoshi department store,