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Is It July Again?            Hirata Toshiko

I get a phone call from a friend.

She wants me to wake her up at 7 A.M.,

because she knows I don’t sleep.

It’s for something important, she said.

Seems simple enough,

but as soon as I tell myself

just don’t fall asleep

my eyelids droop.

The hours that always seem to disappear

have come to a dead stop tonight.

I have a feeling I won’t be able to stay up until morning,

so I call a different friend:

I’ve got something important tomorrow

so could you wake me at 6:55 A.M.?

She likely felt her eyelids droop, too,

called someone else,

Can you wake me up tomorrow at 6:50 A.M.?

A vicious cycle

making its rounds

like a circulator bus

through my circulatory system

(how boring!)


I want the wake-up call for my friend

to be a song, sort of a Morning Call.

Flipping through the pages of Beloved Musical Classics:

Mozart’s Lullaby

Brahms’s Lullaby

Schubert’s Lullaby

music that only puts you to sleep:

a trap sprung open when The Cuckoo Bird Song

suddenly appears.

It’s been a month since my last encounter

with a cuckoo bird.

This time, the cuckoo

is a song by W. T. Wrighton, translated

into Japanese by Sakuto Kondo

in the early 1900s.


I know this song

from high school music class,

Miss Matsuyama played it on the piano.

We were allowed to sing it only once

before she moved us right along

to Santa Lucia.

I guess The Cuckoo Bird Song

didn’t have great educational value

(although it’s a good song)

I sing The Cuckoo Bird Song over

and over,

trying to recall the parts I got wrong   in high school

It’s well past seven in the morning

and I still can’t stop singing.



—Translation by Eric E. Hyett & Spencer Thurlow

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