My Dog Papyrus
When I was a child I had a dog
We called him Papyrus, brindle-colored,
At my heels every where I went.
In early Spring, it was the black soil
Lightly covered in snow, under our feet.
The wind blew so cold we feared our ears might shear off.
I shouted, “We are the wintering party!”
Papyrus just gave me an amused look.
His ears standing like those of a wolf
His tail coiled like a tornado
His eyes sharp as light.
A half a century ago roundworms killed him.
Last summer in Ayutthaya, Thailand
I was sitting under a tree, tired after my walk
When an ochre-colored dog quietly approached
And sat gently by my side.
His muzzle sleek and black
I scratched him behind his ears.
His eyes narrowed, he seemed to smile
I called to him, “Papyrus”
And he languidly wagged his tail.
I’m waiting, you know, for you
At the foot of that mountain
When you head off towards its summit
I’ll keep you company
All the things you hold within you
All the things you have forgotten
Papyrus will remember
(Translated by the author with Doug Slaymaker. First published in Japanese in The Yomiuri Shinbun, 26 January 2018.)