Clamber out of the morning river with water beads like fish eggs clung
to your pubis the calluses on your buttocks from sitting, writing
on flat rocks, your goose-pimpled thighs—the bumpy tongues of two dogs licking
each other—and river-slather and slather at the edge of my mouth.
You are smiling, straining out your hair, flicking your hands, and then
see me watching you with the cloth and pots I was taking to wash.
Before I have time to be embarrassed, the smile lifts into your eyes.
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