In the high wind that night the pomegranate tree was stripped of its
The leaves lay in a circle around the base.
Kimiko was startled to see it naked in the morning, and wondered at
the flawlessness of the circle. She would have expected the wind to
There was a pomegranate, a very fine one, left behind in the tree.
"Just come and look at it," she called to her mother.
"I had forgotten." Her mother glanced up at the tree
and went back to the kitchen.
It made Kimiko think of their loneliness. The pomegranate over the
veranda too seemed lonely and forgotten.
Two weeks or so before, her seven-year-old nephew had come visiting,
and had noticed the pomegranates immediately. He had scrambled up into
the tree. Kimiko had felt that she was in the presence of life.
"There is a big one up above," she called from the veranda.
"But if I pick it I can't get back down."
It was true. To climb down with pomegranates in both hands would not
be easy. Kimiko smiled. He was a dear.
Until he had come the house had forgotten the pomegranate. And until
now they had forgotten it again.
Then the fruit had been hidden in the leaves. Now it stood clear against
There was strength in the fruit and in the circle of leaves at the
base. Kimiko went and knocked it down with a bamboo pole.
It was so ripe that the seeds seemed to force it open. They glistened
in the sunlight when she laid it on the veranda, and the sun seemed
to go on through them.
She felt somehow apologetic.
Upstairs with her sewing at about ten, she heard Keikichi's voice.
Though the door was unlocked, he seemed to have come around to the
garden. There was urgency in his voice.
"Kimiko, Kimiko!" her mother called. "Keikichi
Kimiko had let her needle come unthreaded. She pushed it back into
"Kimiko had been saying how she wanted to see you again before
you leave." Keikichi was going to war. "But we could
hardly go and see you without an invitation, and you didn't come.
It was good of you to come today."
She asked him to stay for lunch, but he was in a hurry.
"Well, do at least have a pomegranate. We grew it ourselves." She
called up to Kimiko again.
He greeted her with his eyes, as if it were more than he could do
to wait for her to come down. She stopped on the stairs.
Something warm seemed to come into his eyes, and the pomegranate fell
from his hand.
They looked at each other and smiled.
When she realized that she was smiling, she flushed. Keikichi got
up from the veranda.
"Take care of yourself, Kimiko."
He had already turned away and was saying goodbye to her.
Kimiko looked on at the garden gate after he had left.
"He was in such a hurry," said her mother. "And
it's such a fine pomegranate."
He had left it on the veranda.
Apparently he had dropped it as that warm something came into his
eyes and he was beginning to open it. He had not broken it completely
in two. It lay with the seeds up.
Her mother took it to the kitchen and washed it, and handed it to
Kimiko frowned and pulled back, and then, flushing once more, took
it in with some confusion.
Keikichi would seem to have taken a few seeds from the edge.
With her mother watching her, it would have been strange for Kimiko
to refuse to eat. She bit nonchalantly into it. The sourness filled
her mouth. She felt a kind of sad happiness, as if it were penetrating
far down inside her.
Uninterested, her mother had stood up.
She went to a mirror and sat down. "Just look at my hair,
will you. I said goodbye to Keikichi with this wild mop of hair."
Kimiko could hear the comb.
"When your father died," her mother said softly, "I
was afraid to comb my hair. When I combed my hair I would forget
what I was doing. When I came to myself it would be as if your
father were waiting for me to finish."
Kimiko remembered her mother's habit of eating what her father had
left on his plate.
She felt something pull at her, a happiness that made her want to
Her mother had probably given her the pomegranate because of a reluctance
to throw it away. Only because of that. It had become a habit not to
throw things away.
Alone with her private happiness, Kimiko felt shy before her mother.
She thought that it had been a better farewell than Keikichi could
have been aware of, and that she could wait any length of time for
him to come back.
She looked toward her mother. The sun was falling on the paper doors
beyond which she sat at her mirror.
She was somehow afraid to bite into the pomegranate on her knee.