A Falcon’s Feather

Dear Hisashi,
The more I think about it, the more amazing it was that I found a raptor’s feather in the shopping precinct at Senri Chuo just after delivering to you my tribute to the late lamented Michio Sano (‘The First Hailstone’) at the Yomiuri Bunka Center English Haiku class on Thursday. Wishful thinking, perhaps, but now I feel like it was some kind of final salute from him!
I had written the following haiku, based on something that had caught my eye on the way to the classroom in Oct. ’96 in Namba, Osaka, just before teaching Michio and the others my first real class for YBC …
…… For the haiku class:
…… Dropped and never picked up again,
…… One velvet button.
As you know, Michio had been both the cement and the oil of that class. In late November, eighteen years later, just after class no. 291, I picked up that dropped feather outside the new Center.
KC4F0063I believe it to be the foremost pinion of a falcon, as its underside matches nicely with the lead wing feather in this picture of a  ハヤブサ peregrine falcon, the fastest creature in the world.
hayabusa1I also carefully checked the internet for goshawk オオタカ, sparrow hawk ハイタカ and kite トビ feathers, but they did not match. Talking with you, and later doing a rigorous Japanese language web-search, shows that these birds are not uncommon in the area in winter.
What is uncommon is for a pinion feather to land in the shopping plaza and for a haiku poet from Britain to pick it up!
So I later wrote …
…… For our Michio prayers:
…… Dropped but then picked up again,
…… A falcon’s feather.
……………………………………………………………… Tito
P.S. Another version (written on the night, unrelated to the Namba haiku):
…… After the memorial,
…… It dropped from the sky
…… To a shopping precinct —
…… A falcon’s feather.
The first version requires a haibun for its comprehension, whereas the second stands up on its own?

7 Responses to “A Falcon’s Feather”

  1. Hisashi Miyazaki Says:

    Dear Stephen:
    Nice pair of haiku for Sano-san! Very touched!
    I agree with you about the pinion feather of a hawk.
    I heard that there is a view platform at the hill of Mino city, only a few kilometers just north from Senri-chuo. In autumn, many maniac photographers are said to form a line of camera there to take the picture of migrating hawks in crowd. There are several species of such hawk here. I was surprised from your net linked pictures of hawk observation even at Senri area.
    If you search with the keyword of 鷹のわたり,you can see the quantitative data of such migration from species to species. Taka and washi (eagle) are winter kigo.
    鷹一つ見付けてうれしいらご崎 Basho
    Vs 鷹の羽根見付けてうれし英国人 h
    Thank you!

    • Thanks, H.
      Yes, Basho wrote that haiku about the hawk for his close friend, Tokoku, whom he went to visit while T was in exile at Cape Irago. Probably Tokoku meant as much to Basho as Michio meant to me. Do you remember the sorrowful piece B wrote about his late friend in the Saga Diary?
      I’d better translate the two haiku you’ve left in your comment.
      So happy to find / At distant Cape Irago … / One soaring hawk (Basho)
      So happy to find / A hawk’s (falcon’s) feather – / The Englishman (Hisashi)

      • William Sorlien Says:

        For our Michio prayers:
        Dropped but then picked up again,
        A falcon’s feather.

        Lines 2 and 3 stand up quite well on their own, thank you. Mind you, a bit mysterious for some, abreviated perhaps, yet the feeling for me is one of rejunvenation and hope, in contast to the example of the velvet button.

        I’m afraid I’m not familiar with Michio – san, but your dedication and honor to him I find quite comforting …

        And Hello to you, Hisashi, old friend!

      • Hisashi Miyazaki Says:

        Hi, Willie!
        Glad to hear from you.
        Have a nice holiday and new year!

  2. Richard Donovan Says:

    I’m late to comment, but I agree this was a miraculous and poignant find given the timing. What was the blue background the photo of the feather was taken against?

    • Life is mysterious, isn’t it?
      Your ‘background’ enquiry, Richard: it’s the blue marbled paper document wallet I use for my lecture notes and students’ work in a comparative culture course I teach on Britain and India (made in King’s Lynn, Norfolk, UK).
      Footnote: it has brown tape reinforcing the dog-eared edges (not shown!).

  3. For the poem “After the memorial” I wonder if line 3 is necessary?

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