May 20, 2012

"Are You Digging on My Grave?" by Thomas Hardy

Floor of Westminster Abbey

  "Are you digging on my grave,
My loved one? -- planting rue?"
-- "No, yesterday he went to wed
One of the brightest wealth has bred.
'It cannot hurt her now,' he said,
          'That I should not be true.'" 

"Then who is digging on my grave?
         My nearest dearest kin?"
-- "Ah, no; they sit and think, 'What use!
What good will planting flowers produce?
No tendance of her mound can loose
         Her spirit from Death's gin.' " 

"But some one digs upon my grave?
         My enemy? -- prodding sly?"
-- "Nay: when she heard you had passed the Gate
That shuts on all flesh soon or late,
She thought you no more worth her hate,
         And cares not where you lie." 

"Then, who is digging on my grave?
         Say -- since I have not guessed!"
-- "O it is I, my mistress dear,
Your little dog, who still lives near,
And much I hope my movements here
         Have not disturbed your rest?" 

"Ah yes! You  dig upon my grave . . .
         Why flashed it not on me
That one true heart was left behind!
What feeling do we ever find
To equal among human kind
         A dog's fidelity!" 

"Mistress, I dug upon your grave
         To bury a bone, in case
I should be hungry near this spot
When passing on my daily trot.
I am sorry, but I quite forgot
         It was your resting-place." 

May 5, 2012

"Atchi-baa-chan" by Paul Rector

“Paul and Keiko dropped by the other day. Can you believe it? They’re still calling me Atchi-baa-chan. That’s’cause I spent most of my time in the kitchen, the laundry, or in some other room (atchi), and I guess I was an old lady (baa-chan) to them.”
“Seems that Paul and his daughter, Jolene, decided to drop by for a visit during obon about 20-odd years ago. But they never made it. Somehow they made a wrong turn and ended up at the wrong cemetery. And the small Christian mausoleum they found certainly wasn’t ours!”
“Rumor has it that while they were there, Paul told Jolene all about me. He told her how Keiko’s mom and brother and sister could only see him as this graceless gaijin who could barely squeeze his knees under the kotatsu. He also told her how I treated him as simply another face at the dinner table. And he pointed out that his halting Japanese had seemed to confound the entire family, except for me. “
“And now, here he was, squatting awkwardly right in front of our mausoleum apologizing for what had happened years ago. I told him I was proud of him. I told him it’s the effort and intent of the visitor, not the results, that count up here. So what if he may have been a few kilometers off track? There was no unpardonable error. Dropping by like they did, even if it was at the wrong cemetery, was thoughtful. He and Jolene actually made quite a reputation for as far as any of us were concerned. And in the process they generated more smiles and laughter in this oppressively somber setting than there’d been here in years.”

Link to RLS
This link is probably broken. Paul Rector passed away in Gunma Prefecture, 23 Sept. 2012, at the age of 65.