Remembrance of Yuko Tsushima
Excerpt from Remembrance of Yuko Tsushima by Hiromi Ito, Feb 19, Kyodo News, translated by Geraldine Harcourt
… She once said to me, out of the blue, “Hiromi-san, do what you want to do now. Because in life there’s no telling what’ll happen.” At the time, I had stopped writing poetry and was agonizing over what to do. So I felt like I’d been given a good thump on the back by a cool gal, a big sister, and this was one of the motive forces that brought me back to poetry. I keep it in my heart, even now.
I have been a hard-core Osamu Dazai fan since high school. But I never talked about Dazai around Tsushima-san. Just once, she happened to mention him herself. When she was a child, she said, she read through all his works wanting to see if she appeared in them. I was at a loss for words. I knew she didn’t appear. In the story “Cherries,” the wife appears with a baby in her arms. “The younger daughter is one year old,” he writes. And, if I remember rightly, that’s it.
When I heard that the handwritten manuscript of “Villon’s Wife” was to be placed in the Yamanashi Museum of Literature, I was so keen to see it I visited Tsushima-san at her home. I took along my youngest, who grew up in America. Tsushima-san served us cherries. As we always have American cherries at our place, my daughter had never seen the smaller Japanese type. She ate with enthusiasm, so many you could have made a necklace of them if you’d strung the stalks together with thread. And ever since she has called Tsushima-san “the cherry lady.” Every time we eat cherries, she says the ones we ate at the cherry lady’s house were the best.
“Don’t call her that! That’s Tsushima Yuko, a figure of Japanese literature I respect with all my heart, and Tsushima-san’s father was really something, too!” I remember now having had this out with my child, who doesn’t speak Japanese very well, over and over again.