My little Salvia
It was just fragile sprout
The summer came
Other salvia bloomed, withered,
and when the seeds were ready to harvest,
my little salvia, it finally bloomed
yes, I was happy
I can still easily remember this poem, which I wrote in the third year of elementary school, because I have a memory that it was praised by my father very much.
In the science class, I planted salvia to write observation diary. Choosing two or three from many little seedlings, growing in the planter that the teacher brought, I transplanted them into my pot. For few weeks I kept observing those seedlings that were still small like sprouts. Though my friends’ salvia, transplanted in the same way, grew steadily, my salvia stayed small and looked helpless. The summer holiday started, I took my salvias home and kept observing them. Putting the pot under the kitchen window, observing it everyday, saying with my mother “not yet”, I started getting anxious; the summer was about to end, and when I saw salvias at my friends’ house the peak period of full bloom was already over. My Salvia, I waited and waited but they still didn’t show me even buds. One day, when the season was changing into autumn and I was close to giving up, the flowers popped out. Red, pretty salvia.
In my writing class, I wrote about this experience casually in a poem. I brought the poem home and, simply, showed it to my parents. Then, my father was deeply moved by it. It was an unexpected reaction.
I have never been praised by my father very much like that in my life. He loved the poem so much that he sent it to the editor of aquarium magazine and wrote texts related to it. A few days later, my father cheerfully told me “I received feedback from a reader who also liked the poem very much!”
To be honest, I myself didn’t have any idea about what made that poem so attractive. When my uncle came to visit us, my father delightedly showed him the poem.
“It might have been better if the ending was just ‘I was happy’,” said my uncle. And my father objected. “‘yes, I was happy,’ that was why this poem was attractive.” At that time, I just thought “Well, if you say so”.
At the school, I had an opportunity to present a poem, choosing from what I had written, to the class. I decided to read “Salvia Flowers” that my father highly praised. In front of everybody, for the first time, slowly I read out that poem. The moment when I said, “I was happy,” tears were unexpectedly about to come out. I was surprised and did my best to hold back the tears.
Oh yes, I was happy that my salvias actually bloomed. At that moment, I finally realized. This is what “being happy’. The plants I watched over bloomed, they responded to me, even though it was so late. I wanted to gently tell my salvias, my father, my mother, myself, and someone “yes, I was happy”: the little miracle.
It is “yes, I was happy” but not “I was happy.” To me, it is who my father is. He does neither say nor expect complicated things. He, however, tends to focus on small things: incredibly small things. Sometimes, something very small changes things dramatically, totally and radically. There are pictures only Takashi Amano can take, aquascape only he can create.
To me, this poem is a story of a girl who came to know what happiness is, and it is also a memory of my father who was moved by the story.
18 years since then, now trying to write about my father, I would of course like to start in this poem. It might be far from what we call a poem. However, something started from this poem is no doubt flowing inside of me, and it is thanks to that my father was deeply moved by it.
text & illustlation by Sayuri Amano