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"Grandfather’s Member" by Aiko Tokuzawa

Updated: Jul 23, 2023


Grandfather’s Member

by Aiko Tokuzawa

translated by Andrew Hall


Cautiously handling grandfather's member,

nervous and sweating the first time,

I fit it into the urinal.

I tell myself not to think about it,

it is just another part of him.

But, oh, what a gentle weight,

what a hint of warmth,

laden with meaning.


Now, it is the way of barley tea,

the path of miso soup,

practices that nourish life.

Gently laying it down in the clear glass urinal,

like a sparrow that seems dead,

but then its wingtips flutter,

and a pale-yellow floral pattern

forms on the glass.

It is like a sparrow's brief dream,

a dream of flowers,

where it wants to laugh or cry.

It’s seen them many times,

these remnants of dreams.

An amber sediment,

reflected in the afterglow that shines

through the hospital window--

singing songs of silence,

at the edge of a shadow of death.


Forgotten now, at the end of eighty-eight years,

are those dazzling mornings

where he would ardently call out,

flying high in the azure sky

above the power lines

Now the sparrow has fallen down, down,

on the slope at dusk.

Trying to grasp at a truth, but failing.

Fallen, but dimly inscribed.

Fallen, relieved, pulling eternal glory through the glass.

Fallen gently, so gently.



This piece was published in 2023 as part of the Around the World in Mormon Literature contest by the Mormon Lit Lab. Sign up for our newsletter for future updates.

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