A Passage from Issa’s Oraga Haru
Still clothed in the dust of this suffering world, I celebrate the first day in my own way. And yet I am like the priest, for I too shun trite popular seasonal congratulations. The commonplace “crane” and “tortoise” echo like empty words, like the actors who come begging on New Year’s Eve with empty wishes for prosperity. The customary New Year pine will not stand beside my door. I won’t even sweep my dusty house, living as I do in a tiny hermitage constantly threatening to collapse under harsh north winds. I leave it all to Buddha, as in the ancient story.
The way ahead may be dangerous, steep as snowy trails winding through high mountains. Nevertheless I welcome the New Year just as I am.
New Year greeting-time:
I feel about average
welcoming my spring
And although she was born only last May, I gave my little daughter a bowl of soup and a whole rice cake for New Year’s breakfast, saying:
Laughing, crawling, you’re
exploring — already two
years old this morning
No servant to draw wakamizu, New Year’s “first water.”
But look: Deputy
Crow arrives to enjoy
the first New Year’s bath