The Sumida

River, river, river (lifelong familiarity with a language lures us into hearing onomatopoeia). We look out on the Sumida River where it goes past the southern end of Tokyo’s Taito ward, and are just a couple of hundred meters upstream from the confluence with the Kanda (which I once lived alongside in Nakano ward).

A river—or any body of water for that matter—is a view that you can wholly rely on to be different every day. The color, texture, play of light on, speed of flow, traffic on, even the apparent width of a river change like the weather, like the mood of a creature you’ve been staring at for too long. In other words, a river is one of the most iron-bound promises against boredom, a lifetime guarantee of (at least) subtle surprises.

Windless
the grasses
bend forward

In anticipation
the gulls bob and wheel
at the mouth of the Kanda

A breeze licks my neck
as I watch the Sumida
caught unawares

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4 Responses to “The Sumida”

  1. A very enjoyable read, David. Vivid without being hugely intense. I particularly liked your final ku, with the ambiguity of who or what is being caught unawares.

  2. ritasophie Says:

    Wonderful!
    Thank you so much for reading my blog! こんばんは (learning Japanese :) )

  3. ritasophie Says:

    Reblogged this on TranslatingRitaSophie.

  4. I once rented a houseboat on the Thames in Chelsea, London together with two other students. To live with a river in a capital city: ideal. May I wish you many years of wonder at its iight and quiet mood changes. Bags of haiku and haibun surely lie in store! Thanks for sharing with us your palpable joy.

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