Memories of West Sugamo2

Sugawara Katsumi

(translated by Arthur Binard)

Once, I started painting faces on
small dolls
Two cents a face
But even that job was short-lived.
I too started out in the morning
With a lunch sitting on a park bench.

In the park the sun dazzled
The fountain glistened, pigeons
fluttered up
And a girl in a muslin kimono
played hopscotch
I spent all day with the pigeons
But within a few days your mother
found out.

Long ago
We lived in West Sugamo
Hand in hand with that hapless time
Just before the War
Downstairs your great-eyed mother
and elder sister
Upstairs you and I
And all the laundry hung to dry.
You always made scrambled eggs to
go with rice
And once a month a plainclothesman
wold come.
When streamers went up around Tenso
The vendors soid pinwheels and rice
marzipan ...