Yumiko Tsumura Poetry

by Yumiko Tsumura

Rain – in the Village of Takara

How I want to be
is raining softly.
The river has more water.
The rice plants are growing.
Do you hear the music
of the rain?
I want to go
as the rain leaves off.


The Encounter
– with Sam in Osaka

It was not
that you turned me round
or just pushed me to open.
Just facing you

something free and naked
as laughter
leaped into me
through the pores of my skin

and dug me up.
I had been buried alive
in the desert of



my mother was
a tiny thin woman
with big bones, strong hands
and agile legs
always working from dawn to dusk
talking to herself laughing
she loved the wrinkles on her forehead
saying they are her fortune

one spring day in the village of Takara
when her sweet pea field
blossomed soft-pink
she came to tell me
with running sweat from weeding
“a white butterfly came to visit”

she was a woman content
even in her wrinkles

when lost and tired
I wish I could crawl
in between her soft


The Blessing

July 7th is tanabata
the romantic star
festival day

crossing the heavenly river
Junko and Igor
exchanged vows

in white silence
the color of the day
beams and beckons

among the fragrance
of roses, lilies of the valley,
stephanotis and glossy green
the embracing eyes of people
from East and West celebrating
the poignant union of the two

the nectar of
the shinning day


At a Summer’s End

today a long time Japanese friend
answered my telephone call
it was a voice of a man who has renounced the world
a burnt out combatant on this American continent
in giving care for his stroke suffering wife
for over a decade
he said she has become
an enemy

as though harnessing light from a needle point
in a dark bleak place
he confessed pain from his deep well
in his native language saying
some days he chooses not to go to see her
and listens to
opera all day long

it is not distant daughters, nor a big house and savings
that gives him solace
his love for opera is his sole companion

however shredded
he will not brake.


A Ritual of Autumn

our neighbor offered to share
the fall gifts from nature
persimmons, picked from a tall tree

remembering the old Japanese way
we carefully peeled, skewer them with bamboo spits
and hung them in a cold room like a barn
of the old wooden house I grew up in
hoping the tannin turns sweet
ready for the new year

the sunset colored persimmons
lit our Autumn days,
bright lanterns


Like A White Egret in June

returning from the journey
seeing off the dead
to the woods of the souls
in the Buddha country
on the other side of the river

I saw something moving in dim light
as though you were waiting for me
on this side of the river
in the Moonlight Sonata

you appeared from the land of wonder

your solid wings
have taken me to a new
field, I taste the sweetness
of light in green air
I am giggling


Renaissance Song

a man of my second
dream appeared in my path
he brought Wagner’s Tannhauser
the noble soul of the mystical music
reached the numb center inside me
and pulled me out of the loss of my first
dream and braced me up

I embraced the summer light
with sweet tomatoes and dazzling
dahlias he grew
I tasted November light chewing
pomegranates he loves
when winter chill kept me indoors
he came with camellias from his garden
and took my hand to the gate
of oil painting, into
light and shadow in colors
I braved a new world
like a child playing in the mud
when the cold air softened
the daffodils he planted
came out of the wet ground,
painting them I experienced a new
spring and saw
the sun and moon in the morning sky

and the endless summer returned
we grow lettuce and zinnias
in my garden, and my roots rejoice
small birds and squirrels join us
he practices piano and my fingers are busy
with cooking apricot from his tree
our foreheads together
we giggle in our time
past and future do not invade

right in the center of the world
my day is full and round


A New Passage Embraced by Cherry Blossoms

We gathered together
to enter the gate of
the Tamatsushima-Jinja in Wakaura Bay,
across the Pacific from San Francisco Bay.
After cleansing our hands and mouths with the sacred water
we ascended into the realm of the sanctified.
Paul wrapped in a hundred year old kimono my father wore
the day he married my mother, and Yumiko wrapped in
a fifty year old kimono from her parents,
stood pure as just born
in the light of the fourth of April

The ancient drum beat pronounced the ceremony
and the Guuji invoked the Kami to descend.
we exchanged nuptial cups of sake in Kagura music
and made the solemn oath to unit forever.
Each of us offered Tamagushi, a sprig of the sacred tree sakaki,
to the Kami and bowed twice, clapped twice and bowed once more
to ask the Kami for a blessing.
The deep drum beat penetrating
took us to a mythical time
the old and the new
all in one and one in all
we melt into the infinite.

The gentle waves of the Pacific
resonating with the embracing cherry blossoms
our sacred union merged to the stories
from mythological time.


One Warm Spring Day after three decades

                                    – to Michiko, a marvel

inspired by a dream of America
in the aftermath of the Pacific War
you and I came out of the Japanese islands
from different villages, different years
to pursue the literature
of this continent

we had an enduring encounter
when our narrow bumpy paths crossed
and a little bird flew between us
even though we were treasuring it dearly
each of us had moved on
to another pursuit

surviving the winds and waves of life
having sipped the nectar
of a long silence
the bird with stronger wings
carried your message
from thousands of miles away

leaping time and space
the embrace of our reunion
in profound silence under a blue sky
had the divine purity
of cherry blossoms

it will keep flying between us
our “song of now” with delicious laughter
resonates on this
continent making our
transient life


Editor’s Note on Yumiko Tsumura Poetry:

Yumiko Tsumura Poetry is not Yumiko Tsumura’s first work to appear in Eastlit. Her previous published pieces are:

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