When the first cold winds of October shiver Through the pandanus groves on the far hills Daylight darkens, the valleys are smeared shadows —And spirits of land and sea begin appearing.
The weary boy tending his family’s poor Farmland hears voices in the wind’s Shadows, chanting to him “Time to go home, child, time to go.”
Though his eyes are watery, He does not weep yet. He begins softly to sing Above the murmuring voices To blur the grieving in their calls:
Cold winds of October, bring the young hawks,Cold winds, seasonal winds, invite themTo find the fields, where they will be fed.
Migrating hawks from the far reefs Hear the boy singing, chanting their names, And hurry to the pandanus hills From the low-lying Panari Island in the east.
Hawks are the spirits of ancestors, restlessly flying Out to sea and back again as the seasons turn. But why the eternal pilgrimage, and why return? Even the elders of the village don’t know.
When the first cold winds of October blow The spirits of the hawks cry out, weeping, [End Page 23] And the people weep with them Wishing to share in their grieving.
Hawks, spirits of our ancestors, restlessly arriving On our poor island as October winds begin blowing, What can we do but capture these hawks to feed ourselves, As our ancestors did when they were living? Alive because of each other, now and always. [End Page 24]
Kawamitsu Shinichi was born on Miyako Island. His work includes three books of essays and two books of poetry. “The Hawks” was published in Poems of Kawamitsu Shinichi (1977).
Katsunori Yamazato received his doctorate from the University of California at Davis and is a professor of American literature and culture at the University of the Ryukyus. His books include Poetics of Place: Reading Gary Snyder (2006) and A Narrative History of Ryudai, 1947–1972 (2010). Among his translations from English to Japanese are Gary Snyder’s Place in Space (2000) and Rivers and Mountains without End (2002). He co-edited Voices from Okinawa, the summer 2009 volume in the Mānoa series. At present, he is the director of the Pacific North/South American Research Project “Human Migration and the Twenty-First Century Global Society.”