Thursday, 12 April 2012


In English we'd call it a kind of racoon.
this souvenir from Japan, explained to us
in good-humor (our son translating)
by the woman in the gift shop
just down from the temple, crows
cawing from a dark nest of power lines,
schoolgirls in black knee-socks
and short pleated skirts, giggling
in bunches, arm-in-arm, stepping
lightly into the dying summer.

The shop owner that day itemised
what everything on the racoon meant,
right down to its over-sized, lucky balls.
Each thing about him, it seems, is symbolic.
Not on that first trip, but on our second,
we buy one to take back for our front door.
Straight away, he justifies our decision
and saves a forest-coloured waxeye
that trembled behind his fat belly,
a claw's length away

from where our cat had it cornered.
When I reached to free it, the bird felt warm
and light, a quivering feathered heart
beating as I lifted it, my open palm
offering it back to the sky, the trees
and to the day. Tanuki's lifted eyes
feigned ignorance. Just as nonchalant,
the cat flopped on the warm path
like an otter in a river. I watched
the bird fly back into summer.

Kay McKenzie Cooke

Reference: Information can be found here on the Japanese Tanuki - a racoon dog, or badger.


McDinzie said...

We could do with one of those on our front door step.....such a cutie...and saviour!!!!

Kay Cooke said...

Rats! I should've bought one for you guys - next time! (If you don't get there first and buy one for yourselves). :)


Just come and get your own!

kj said...

kay, i love your poetry.

the reference to balls stopped me in shock for a moment, but i think my mind was not where yours was intended :^)

Just as nonchalant,
the cat flopped on the warm path
like an otter in a river. I watched
the bird fly back into summer.

love this.


Kay Cooke said...

kj - Yesss! I'm glad it gave you a start - yes! Intentional! :)

kctoyama said...

Cute Tanuki~~:)

A said...

Nice tanuki. And I love the story/poem :-)))

Anonymous said...

beautiful that your Tanuki saved a bird...from being a kitty feast!

how lovely to have this interesting little statue at your front door!

Kay Cooke said...

yujinxiang - He;s very cute we love him!

A- I like to write a story / poem when I can - glad you liked it. :)

Theanne - Thanks, it was quite a special moment ...

Dona Bogart said...

Tanuki looks very powerful and he must be a kind soul. I'm sure it was nothing for him to offer the poor frightened waxeye refuge. I bet that is why he drew you back to the shop, he sensed that same kindness in you. You felt that little birds life fluttering in your hands. How secure you must feel to have Tanuki guard your door.(big cajones!)

You carried me along with you as you told this story. Thank you.

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