By Eric Ekstrand Eric Ekstrand
When History turns soldiers into battles, you turn them into grass.
Bashō, Sweet, is it honorable? But for these men who died with grunts
and clangs in their ears, for their horses with snapped legs, I haven’t got
the art to make them into anything. I fold the grass in the shape   
of a man, very literal, very primitive and leave it on   
the field and say, “Forgive me valorous men for my ineptitude.”
Just then, the little man falls down in the wind and—huh!—there is art.

Each “Appleblossom” is a verse translation from the Japanese of a short selection from the notebooks of Chiri, Bashōs traveling companion during the years between Withered Chestnuts and Travelogue of Weatherbeaten Bones.

Source: Poetry (October 2008).


This poem originally appeared in the October 2008 issue of Poetry magazine

October 2008
 Eric  Ekstrand


Eric Ekstrand lives in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, with his husband, Danny, and his father, Ken. He teaches writing at Wake Forest University. He is the recipient of a 2009 Ruth Lilly Fellowship awarded by the Poetry Foundation and graduated from the University of Houston with an MFA in creative writing in 2010. His first full-length collection, Laodicea, was selected by Donald Revell for the Omnidawn 1st/2nd Book Prize and . . .

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