Difficult shacks of Kushiro, too far afield, at least theirs are not
our roofless griefs even farther in the marshes that are huge buckets
of green tea in the rainy season—you glisten as you go, Bashō,
wring out your sleeves. Frog keeps its knees in its armpits on plant flotilla
and Duck of all the birds is shaped most like a canoe. We were not built
for this and anyway, standing smack dab in no-man’s-land you can stop
and say, Here is a place made famous in poems. Aren’t you such a place?
Each “Appleblossom” is a verse translation from the Japanese of a short selection from the notebooks of Chiri, Bashō’s traveling companion during the years between Withered Chestnuts and Travelogue of Weatherbeaten Bones.
Source: Poetry (October 2008).
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This poem originally appeared in the October 2008 issue of Poetry magazine