The first memorial service

My father passed away last August and my family had the first memorial service the day before yesterday. My mother, who is a poet, selected 66 tanka related to her husband, composed during those four last years when she had known about his disease, and compiled them into a handmade booklet. In Japan, it is customary to offer a gift to participants at the service. So the booklet was added to a box of sweets, without any special word.

I don’t write tanka or haiku that much. So I tried a little translation instead.


Just like I used to do / all those decades ago / when child-raising, / I go out to the grocery / leaving an invalid sleeping inside


He was watching a broadcast / of the high-school baseball tournament, / his hometown players darting around: / this, only four short days / before his end

8 responses to “The first memorial service

  1. The role of mother and wife is beautifully captured in this short but moving piece, both in the tanka and through your linking prose. Thank you for sharing something so personal (yet universal) on this site.

  2. お悔やみ申し上げます。

    • 母は常に常に短歌を詠んでいるのでこれまでに何首詠んでいるやら知りません。その中から一周忌のために66首選んで冊子を作り、私はその中から2首選んでICEBOXに御紹介しました。その後8月末でしたかある夜、所属している短歌結社の選考委員会から今年全体の賞に選ばれたとの電話が入ったとの興奮したメールが飛び込んできました。客観的にも評価されたわけでよいことでしょう。公開になったらもう少し翻訳を試みたいと思います。

      My mother has always composed tanka poem and I don’t know hom many she has composed. She picked up only 66 pieces out of them for her private anthology and I marely chose two of them. On August 28 at night, she got a phone call from a editorial board member of the tanka society she belongs to, saying that she was selected to the best poet of this year.
      She was ill with a high fever at that time, but she said that suddenly her fever had blown off! It means that her poems was objectively evaluated, too. I’d like to try some more translations after it became open to public.

    • Thank you for your message.

      Now all her awarded 30 tankas are put on the Hodou Tanka Kai website ;
      Please click the Hodou Prize; ■歩道賞(15~22年) Heisei 22.

      Yesterday I read her comment for the prize, in which she recalled how much she was surprized at the phone call in the heated late summer, and her will to live with tanka for the rest of her life is more confirmed.

      • I had a look. As you didn’t mention it, just to confirm: your mother’s name is 菅千津子 Suga Chizuko, right? Suga was her maiden name, presumably? The prize-winning collection is entitled 驟雨 ‘Shu-u’. Beautiful.
        … er, sorry, her maiden name was Kan?
        By the way, according to my administrator’s dashboard, this is the one thousandth published comment on the Icebox!

  3. Thank you for the checking. My mother’s name is Kan, Chizuko. Kan is her marriage name and my maiden name.