Grave of the fireflies

Red sky, black trees
Red sky, black trees

‘Once again the howl of the air-raid sirens.
Then the distant drone of the war-planes.
Then the bombs; incendiary bombs.

The sky, so blue and beautiful, glows red,
Glows orange – and then turns grey – with ash.
A black rain falls.
The city – now in the executioner’s hour.

A boy and his tiny sister survive.
So too a jar of plums, a tin of sweets –
And a raggedy doll with big big eyes.

Their mother – a vapour now in heaven.
Their father missing; their home a warmth of embers.

Someone says: “You cannot live outside the system.”
But through the looking glass of hope they try.

They try and try – until the tin of sweets is empty
And all the plums are gone.

A week, a day, a final hour goes by.
The little girl – pale as the moonstone – sleeps her endless sleep –
And heartbreak takes the boy – sometime in September.

They died – like lovely fireflies – even before the sunrise.’

Footnote: These lines were written after seeing the film, ‘Grave of the fireflies‘. The film was directed by Isao Takahata and released in 1988. Among other things, the film refers to the firebombing of the Japanese city of Kobe in the final days of World War 2.

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