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April 2015, vol 11 no 1

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Sonam Chhoki

Not Like Issa


As his daughter Sato lay swollen with smallpox blisters on her deathbed Issa wrote, 'The greatest pleasure issues ultimately in the greatest grief.' After she died, he said, 'Try as I would, I could not, simply could not cut the binding cord of human love.' *

So he wrote of sparrows, crickets, flies and fleas with the heart of a bodhisattva, his own pain transmuted to compassion. On a far diminished plane, after the stillbirth of our first child, the songs of the bulbul irk me and sun-lit peaks are a serration of ice blades. It seems the Three Jewels of peace, wealth and harmony the wind horse bears on the New Year prayer flag are not for us.

sunrise . . .
the shape of a single wing
in the clouds


Note: * From The Year of My Life by Kobayashi Issa, trans. Nobuyuki Yuasa.


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