Tuesday Poem

Self Introduction

I am an old man, short and bald
For over half a century
I have spent my life grappling with words:
nouns, verbs, postpositional particles, question marks and the like
Now I rather prefer silence

I do not dislike mechanical tools
Though I love trees, too, including shrubs
I am not good at remembering their names
I am somewhat indifferent to dates in the past
I harbor antipathy against so-called authority

I am cross-eyed, astigmatic and presbyopic
My house has no Buddhist altar or Shinto shrine, but
I have a gigantic mail box that connects directly to my room
Sleep is a sort of pleasure for me
If I dream, I do not remember it when I awake

All the above are facts, but
once I put them down in words like this, somehow they do not ring true
I have two independent children and four grandchildren, do not keep a cat or a dog
In summer I am in T-shirts most of the time
A price may be paid for the words I write

by Shuntaro Tanikawa
from Watashi (I Myself)
publisher, Shichosha, Tokyo, 2007
translation, 2011, Takako Lento
from The Art of Being Alone: Poems 1952-2009
publisher, Cornell Univ. East Asia Program, 2011