The noise of splashes from the wooden pail.
Night deepens and the knife's steel is cold and sharp.
My job is carving wood as the north wind blows on a winter's night.
When I run out of coals for the stove,
Will you still feed on your great dreams under the ice?
These shavings of cedar are my only offspring.
Chieko's not scared about being poor.
With sword-like fins,
Feelers on your tail,
Iron rings on your gills,
Hope in your stubborn head,
You're a good subject to work on!
The wind drops and the scent of orchids fills the room.
Chieko has fallen asleep.
I push the half-carved catfish to one side,
Pour fresh water on the wetstone,
And, with quick firm strokes, sharpen the knife for tomorrow.