Prayer ~ The Course of Our Tears
when I clench your hands, gone numb from the cold, in mine
I think to myself, “I wish I could stop time on this moment.”
your peering eyes search mine for the hint of a lie
but you’ll find no such thing, silly. I respond with a smile.
I see dreams of our far off future and I fret
I go back and forth over it in my mind again today
I’d rather see the course of my heart play out with my own eyes
than manipulate the outcome, so I do my best to keep out of it.
goodbye, goodbye, and so long
to the ugliness within me that threw mud on my dreams
even if someone ridicules this defenseless dreamer
I want to hold onto that unyielding feeling, that wish.
if it seems like the places and things I’ve grown used to
are showing me a new side
it’s actually because my perspective has changed.
The reason I feel a sense of ill intent from words like
“purity” and “honesty” is surely because
there’s evil in me now too.
I try and forget but I always come back to thinking about it
no matter how old we get, everyone is pretty much the same
those things we never wanted to lose, one after another…
add color to the course of our hearts.
If you’re not sure what to do next, just listen carefully for the current
you’ll hear as it flows from the mouth of your heart
and then all you have to do is set a prayer
like a ship made of the sasa leaf afloat
on that babbling, twinkling current.
Every time you laugh or smile
it stirs the heart
and that desire to be stronger
motivates me to be so
Don’t ever forget the light you have inside you.
I want to always keep watch over it so it never goes out.
goodbye, goodbye and so long
to the weakness within me that stepped on my dreams
the sadness and loneliness, in the course of all these tears
that sometimes fall, will become a beautiful river,
upon which you can then set a prayer like
a ship made of the sasa leaf afloat.
Translated By: Brian & Takako Stewart
Translator’s Notes: The word “kidou” literally means a track as in a train track but the meaning here is a little more nuanced. I see “kidou” as being like destiny. A history of where you’ve been and where you will go. In the case of the heart it means “love” and in the case of tears it means sadnesses. Visualize it like a timeline, or as we translated (eventually) as a course, and it suddenly makes sense.
The reason I did not translate sasabune as simply leaf boat is because it’s a very Japanese image that carries with it a very Japanese emotional resonance. When I was a kid we didn’t sail pretty leaf boats down the brook, we sailed eggshells that we emptied with a nail and painted. If I made a song with “eggshell boats” in it I’d want that image correctly portrayed.