What shall I wear to sleep in alone?


What shall I wear to sleep in alone?
An under-kimono of silk crepe
dyed the hushed red of dawn.
It touches the skin
like heavy mist falls on flowers.
Each time I wear it I'm glad
I was born a woman.

In the candle's glowing flame
its smallest motion
has a beauty that makes me catch my breath
even in this bedroom without you.
It's strange but
as I slip under the quilts
in the cold February bed
my heart returns to the days
when I was a girl and first loved you.

My husband traveler
are you sleeping now in France?
If a bird of paradise comes into your dreams
it is me.


       –from The Channel Boat
         Japanese; trans. Janine Beichman


Yosano Akiko, from The Channel Boat, Japanese, trans. Janine Beichman, Journal of Association of Teachers of Japanese 25, no. 1, April, 1991.