‘Darling when you left’


We loved this small poem about iced coffee which also seems to tell the story of a relationship. The Japanese has a slightly informal, intimate tone, which we decided to mimic by beginning the poem ‘darling’ – it adds an extra level to the imagery that comes afterwards. Similarly, we picked our synonyms very carefully in order to suggest an emotional drama playing out. Instead of ‘undrunk’ we chose ‘standing untouched’ (with the hint of being stood up); instead of ‘diluting’ or ‘watering down’ we chose ‘weakening down’ – it is both fresher as a phrase and more suggestive of a sense of powerlessness. In order to meet our 7 syllables in the last line we also unpacked the image slightly and added the word ‘shrinking’. The tanka itself has an oddly free-floating ‘I’ at the end. We noticed, neatly, that ‘i’ is a fragment of the word ‘ice.’ The speaker ends the poem alone, diminished and suspended too.

Clare Pollard, Poet-facilitator

Please note: this tanka does not have a title so we have used the first line as a title.

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