Posted in Shahai

Rika Inami’s End

when the end
comes upon me ―
sirens blowing
through the darkness
rushes to the fire
© Rika Inami (Japan)

This self-eulogy is evocative in its simplicity and pacing. There is nothing difficult to understand in this tanka, but the subtle meaning behind it might be.

The end of the tanka is not about her, but about fire, an all-consuming element. I think Rika is expressing that in the end, she will become one with her surroundings, or maybe  she or her life was an illusion all along.

It also seems the author is saying that when her end comes, there will be no use in trying to pity her or get involved in feelings. But rather, the author could be pointing to the problem that made her die in the first place. “Fire” has a lot of symbolism attached to it, such as passion, anger, inspiration, and so on.

With the em dash in the second line, we feel more of her end, as she gives us time to take it in. The em dash might seem unnatural, but for poetry, it totally makes sense to have there. In tanka, we sometimes use punctuation to show two parts more clearly. So, Rika is also demarcating the parts in the tanka.

The photo connects indirectly to the tanka wonderfully. The red of the maple leaves shows the fire and the latern is similar to a siren light.

The most prominent sound to me in this tanka is the “o” sound in “comes,” “upon,” “blowing,” “through” and “to.” It gives an effect of a suspension of time and makes us read the poem slower.

A humble poem about one’s death, written in a simple style. But that is just the surface. I think this tanka brings up a lot of symbolism and thoughts about the reality/illusion of life, where we go when we die, and what we are meant for in the end.

– Nicholas Klacsanzky (Ukraine)


Meditator, writer, editor, musician.

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