Song of Chugen
My parents departed long ago.
How often I grieve in sadness!
I had only two aunts left:
Last year I went to Kyoto and sobbed.
This year I moved to the shore of a lake and river.
My grief multiplies as I move through space and seasons.
Monks perform an urabon ceremony* after cleaning the temple.
The chanting of sad voices resounds to the red banners.
Then a cool breeze arrives;
cleansing and darkening showers merge with the dust.
Rain over, plantain shadow under the leaning sun-
the spirit of my father appears before me.
After the ceremony I return to the monks’ quarters,
making a silent dedication for his liberation:
“Spirit, do not stay sunk forever.
Quickly prepare a boat and cross to the other shore.”
*Since the early days of Buddhism,
the Urabon Ceremony is a time set aside
for people to pray for the
peace and happiness of the deceased.
Sky Above, Great Wind
Trans: K Tanahashi