Poems written by Mrs. Tomoe Tana during her incarceration at Gila, Arizona

Translated by Michihiro Ama in “Neglected Diary, Forgotten Buddhist Couple: Tana Daisho’s Internment Camp Diary as Historical and Literary Text,” Journal of Global Buddhism 14 (2013)

Saying, “To the Buddha,” young girls pick flowers and hand them to me;

I delightedly offer them to the Buddha.


From the peaks of the Sierras, winds blow this way and that:

In the dead of night, I pile on more clothes because of cold.


During a Dharma Talk, cries of a cricket are heard from time to time;

How like the voices of the Buddha.


Opening a sacred text I carry;

The voices of the devout chant a sutra in unison.


When rains come, clouds leave.

How like the world of impermanence

This sudden change, where no one lives forever.

(Ama, p. 51)


(『サンタフェー・ローズバーグ戦時敵国人抑留所日記』第一巻 194)

Minding a sick child who seeks mother’s affection,

I cannot progress with my needlework, or even wipe away my perspiration.


Skimming his diary without stop makes my eyes moist;

When I put it down, I realize I have forgotten to even wipe off my perspiration.


Wandering without a husband for whom I yearn,

I look with nostalgia at his handwriting, reading it again and again.


My husband is about to touch my face;

When I awake from that dream, the flickering of stars enters my eyes.


The lullaby I croon seems to wake the child;

He croons with me while half asleep.

(Ama, p. 52)


(『サンタフェー・ローズバーグ戦時敵国人抑留所日記』第一巻 250)