This poem is full of ambiguities, again seemingly informed by Kurose’s Buddhism. Someone’s past life seems to flash before the speaker’s eyes. Is this an act of empathy with a fellow human? Is it their own previous life they see? Or is the speaker themselves suddenly aware that one day they will be someone’s past life?
We enjoyed changing ‘Ah I’ at the beginning to ‘Ah me’ – it has that archaic tone Kurose likes to use, a sighing sound, and also a strange pitying distance from the self. The two final images are astonishing – we have an image of pure lightness, surface, purity, and another of incredible weight and darkness. We decided not to you the simile formulation ‘like’ but simply put the two together, so their relation is more complex. One contains the other.
Please note: this tanka does not have a title so we have used the first line as a title.