as i travel home
moonlight sparkles upon the river
follow me
and together we sing
a lullaby
to the tired shadows
of night

Do you sometimes wonder where the poems come from? I do, even at times for those which I’ve written myself! The story of the poem above is quite simple, but enchanting.

I was cycling home after work one night, and as I pedaled along Kamogawa (the Kamo river in Kyoto) the moon was shining brightly and sparkling on the flowing river water. As I watched the sparkles while riding my bicycle they appeared to stay by my side, to be traveling along in the night together with me. Enchanted, sparkles and I sung a lullaby together, to the tired shadows of night.

Not long before that night I had visited Byodoin Temple, a UNESCO world heritage site in Uji, Kyoto. In the Phoenix Hall of Byodoin is a collection of 52 wooden bodhisattva statues, of which the one in the above photograph is my favorite. It’s playing the biwa, a traditional Japanese lute. With its serene composure, this lute-playing bodhisattva looks to me like a moon-deity playing heavenly music to the troubled and tired human souls on earth. And so I later imagined myself cycling along the river, together with moon sparkles and a benevolent bodhisattva, singing a lullaby to the tired shadows of night.

It’s a simple poem that I wrote a little over three years ago.

Recently, for the first time since before the covid pandemic started, I came down with a cold. That is to say that luckily, I have not gotten sick—not even a slight cold—for about three years! So I was going over some old poems for this week’s blog post and this one, lullaby, made me smile. This time, I am a tired shadow in the night, and this time, it’s my turn to be sung to. Good night. 🌜✨