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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & Owner
Ray Rasmussen, General Editor

Volume 11, Number 1, March 2017
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Tim Gardiner
Manningtree, Essex, United Kingdom


A letter from the butterfly garden

Dear Akemi,

The oppressive heat continues to linger, and the time has come for the defence of our great shogun. The enemy gathers at the gate, vastly outnumbering our depleted clan of samurai. As I sit in quiet contemplation, writing this final message, the view of distant Fuji is obscured by low clouds. A swallowtail in the butterfly garden reminds me of your ageless beauty, the lotus flower in the moat, our growing son.

still
so much
to live for
the caterpillar
clings to the vine

Rain approaches from the Tama Hills on the strengthening breeze, and a first flash of lightning streaks across the sky. I wonder whether the firefly will battle with the stars this evening. After unsheathing my sword, I don the ridged helmet, which shall not leave my head; there must be no thought of retreat or surrender.

My death poem . . .

when grey clouds
finally part
the cicada
in the black pine
sings a different song

Please take care of yourself and Nobuo.

Yours,
Takeshi


Author's Notes:

Meaning of the Japanese names included in "A letter from the butterfly garden":
Akemi: bright, beautiful
Nobuo: faithful man
Takeshi: fierce, warrior


The piece is set during the Edo period (1603-1868), when Japan was ruled by the Tokugawa shogunate from Edo Castle in what is now metropolitan Tokyo.

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