Saturday, June 22, 2013

One Man’s Maple Moon: Beach Fire Tanka by Susan Constable

English Original

in twilight
by the beach fire
I shiver
thinking of the last time
you turned to wave goodbye

3rd place, 2010 Tanka Society of America Contest

Susan Constable

Chinese Translation (Traditional)


Chinese Translation (Simplified)


Bio Sketch

Susan Constable’s tanka appear in numerous journals and anthologies, including Take Five. She placed third in the 2010 Tanka Society of America Contest and her tanka collection, The Eternity of Waves, is one of the winning entries in the eChapbook Awards for 2012. She is currently the tanka editor for the international on-line journal, A Hundred Gourds. Susan lives with her husband on Canada’s beautiful west coast.


  1. Below is the judge's comment, which can be accessed at

    The beach fire in this verse could have sent the observer into a deep meditation, as staring at fires can do. But instead of soul-satisfying ruminations, this person's psyche has been opened to the raw memory of a painful moment, a moment until now probably repressed. The twilight and the beach fire now take on different nuances--twilight being the objective correlative of the end of the relationship and the fire being the passion or pain involved. The "I shiver" is an excellent pivot, and we shiver, too, since the poet has brought us to the very edge of this person’s psyche. We are there, peering in and someone is waving a final goodbye..

  2. The upper verse, especially L1 (in "twi"light), successfully sets the context, scenic and emotive, while the pivotal line and the temporal shift in the lower verse add psychological depth to the poem.