This poem is taken from Stand 223, 17(3) September - November 2019.

Itsuko Ishikawa Poem Translated by Rina Kinkuchi
centaurea cyanus

Just      one      cornflower

‘dying of disease      or by accident’
wondering
she picks up a pale purple bloom      in the field       
leaving it by the dead
sixty thousand years ago      the soul of      a Neanderthal

Homo sapiens      may we      go back and start anew  



Translator’s context note

Nature poetry has a long tradition in Japanese poetry. Many of tanka poems, for instance, can be considered as nature poetry, for they closely explore the relationship between nature and personal emotion attached to it. On the other hand, eco-poetry, which requires more critical, political and/or philosophical viewpoints about ecology, has been slow to be developed in Japan. I suspect it is because there has been a tendency of avoiding anything political in poetry since the end of the WWII (1945). However, after Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami and nuclear disaster in 2011, more poets are taking a step into political sphere and I am hoping to see more to come in near future. 
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