TOPICS > Arts

Favorite Poem Project: Tanka

May 17, 2000 at 12:00 AM EDT

TRANSCRIPT

KIYOSHI HOUSTON, Student: I’m Kiyoshi Houston. I have three middle names, Sean, Shenon, and Kamihana Okala, and I’m a student at Lincoln Middle School. Next year I’ll be starting high school. I’m in eighth grade. I have one baby sister, my mom, and her boyfriend, Onjay. She says she’s been reading to me since I was even in her uterus, playing music and reading books to me. So it was, once again, one of the poems that she read to me, like, before bed or we were sitting on the couch or I’ll be working my homework and I’ll finish it, and she’ll go, “hey, let’s read some poems.”

This is an untitled tanka by Sone Nayoshi Tada, translated by Kenneth Rekshov.

The lower leaves of the trees
Tangle the sunset in dusk.
Awe spreads with
The summer twilight.

I love watching the sunset on the beach. Because we live right next to the beach, I can just walk out there some nights and watch it, or we’ll be driving, and I’ll look out the window, and there’s always, like, a purple or orange or some wonderful combination of colors that, like, puts me in awe. In the poem, they use the word “awe,” but… And also, when my mom was little– and in turn she told me this– my Grandpa Houston, he told my mom that when, at sunset, when it comes, the angels are baking cookies for you, and that our ancestors, that his father and his father and so on were all baking cookies when the sunset comes in. So that’s always kind of a tie- back, and it makes me think about the people that must have lived before me and given birth to who I am and to me.

The lower leaves of the trees
Tangle the sunset in dusk.
Awe spreads with
The summer twilight.

Hikurureba, shitaba, oguraki, konomotono, mono, osoroshiki, natsu no, yugure.