lalage:

Last Year’s Tree by Nankichi Niimi (not a really direct translation sorry but hopefully close enough - please feel free to point out any errors!):

There was a bird and a tree who were very good friends. In the daytime the bird would sit in the tree’s branches and sing, and the tree would listen to the bird’s song. When summer ended the bird had to go south for the winter — “Come back and sing to me next spring,” the tree said - “See you next year,” the bird said, and flew off.

Winter ended, and spring returned, and with it the bird - But where was the tree? In its place there was only a stump. “Where did the tree go that used to be here?” the bird asked the stump - “The woodcutters cut it down and took it to the valley,” the stump said. So the bird went to the valley.

In the valley was a factory where trees were being cut up -byun byun!- The bird perched on the factory’s gate and asked: “Mr Gate, I’m looking for my good friend who is a tree, do you know where it is?” - “If it’s a tree, it was probably chopped up here, made into matches and sold in the village over there,” the gate said. So the bird went into the village.

In the village the bird found a little girl standing next to a lamp. The bird asked the girl: “Excuse me, do you know where any matches are?” - “I’ve just used up my last match,” the little girl said. “But the flame that the match lit is still burning in this lamp.”

The bird flew to the lamp and perched beside it. For a long, long time the bird looked intently at the flame. Then it began to sing the song it always sang to the tree. As the bird sang the flame danced, and the bird thought that this made the flame seem happy.. Finally the bird finished its song. For a while more it remained there, staring at the flame in the lamp. Then it flew off - to where, no one knows.

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