Tomino’s Hell

By Saijō Yaso

The elder sister vomits blood, younger sister’s breathing fire. While sweet little Tomino just spits up the jewels. All alone does Tomino go falling into that hell, a hell of utter darkness, without even flowers. Is Tomino’s big sister the one who whips him? The purpose of the scourging hangs dark in his mind. Lashing and thrashing him, ah! But never quite shattering. One sure path to Avici, the eternal hell. Into that blackest of hells guide him now, I pray to the golden sheep, to the nightingale. How much did he put in that leather pouch to prepare for his trek to the eternal hell? Spring is coming to the valley, to the wood, to the spiraling chasms of the blackest hell. The nightingale in her cage, the sheep aboard the wagon, and tears well up in the eyes of sweet little Tomino. Sing, o nightingale, in the vast, misty forest he screams he only misses his little sister. His wailing desperation echoes throughout hell—a fox peony opens its golden petals. Down past the seven mountains and seven rivers of hell the solitary journey of sweet little Tomino. If in this hell they are found, may they then come to me, please, those sharp spikes of punishment from Needle Mountain. Not just on some empty whim is flesh pierced with blood-red pins: they serve as hellish signposts for sweet little Tomino.

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