Translated by: Sayumi Takahashi Harb

Poems about the land of Palestine and surrounding areas:

パレスチナ わがまほろばの 崩れゆく 空のみ高しジェニンの町よ

Palestina, our hallowed place breaking apart – With only the sky held high, oh village of Jenin 

バビロンの 自然に朽ちた 足もとの 石に削られし 紀元前の声

In Babylon’s wilderness of ruins the stones by our feet inscribed with voices from before the time of Christ

ジェラシより 一筋にのびる 道の先 占領(せんりょう)されし パレスチナあり 

From Jerash, a road stretches straight – at the end is Occupied Palestine

The following poem expresses her pride at watching her daughter May speak about Palestine

細縞の ワイシャツの衿 ピンと立て パレスチナ語る 吾子は輝く

 Standing the collar of her thin pinstripe shirt tall and crisp – speaking of Palestine, my daughter sparkles

ありがとう もう一度 言いたかった 二〇〇五年 三月十五日 母死す

“Thank you” – I wanted to tell her one last time.  March 15, 2005, mother passed away. 

散り梅の 広がる足下 みつめつつ ひとりひそかに 母を弔う

Gazing at fallen plum blossoms scattered underfoot, secretly I mourn my mother 

哀しみは自由自在に広がって 胎児のごとく 母によりそう

Sadness expands freely at will like a fetus leaning toward her mother

The above three poems on motherhood and mourning were written after the death of Fusako’s mother on March 15, 2005 (around the time of Mother’s Day in the Arab world)


夜桜の しじまの時の 激しさよ 獄で逝きし 人々のこと

Evening cherry blossoms in an hour of stillness, violent intensity of the many who perished in prison 

獄の庭 高き古木の 桜花 処刑のごとく 切られたという

In the prison yard, they say a tall, ancient tree with cherry blossoms was cut down as if executed 

日向いに チューリップ伸び 細き首 少し不安な 曇のち雨

Facing the sun, the tulip extends her long, slender neck – slightly unsettling clouds and then rain

(In the above three poems, flowers and plants are personified as persecuted prisoners – much as olive trees cut down by settlers are viewed in Palestine).

冬超えの 獄のかたすみの ローズマリー 固き葉ふれれば 地中海の匂い*

Overwintering / in one corner of the jail cell, / the rosemary. / Touch its tough leaves, / scent of the Mediterranean

*This poem features a very unusual, uneven meter.  The lines that would typically be 7 syllables are expanded to 8, as if the words cannot be contained within the confines of the traditional meter.  This reflects perhaps the speakers overflowing wish to go beyond the confines of the jail cell and reach the wider world.  Many of her poems written in jail that feature plants have similar uneven meters with longer syllabic lines.  The following poem is also an example:

独房の 闇なき夜の 壁際に 光源のごと カサブランカ咲く

Night without darkness – / in the jail cell / next to the wall / like a light source / Casa Blanca lilies bloom

雪降る日 白胡蝶蘭 差し入れの 白鳥のごと 独房に舞う

Snow falls – / white orchids / someone sent as a present / dance like a swan / in the prison cell 

空笑う あゝ何という 春の晴れ ピースウォークの 花咲くごとく

The sky laughs / Ah! How inexpressibly / clear the azure in spring / as on the path for demonstrations for peace / flowers bloom**

**Here, flowers serve as a symbol for political action and awakening

Copyright © 2022 Fusako Shigenobu