Bashō, with your grass pillow, what underground sounds come into your dreams?
Do blue-horned beetles scratch against the starless night sky that lines your head
with the starless night skies of their own domed backs? Do centipedes trickle through?
Do worms burrow with their snouts, with their bodies that are entirely snouts?
Snoozer, I can only ask you this because now you are dead asleep:
Do I ever appear as a nightcrawler whispering in your ear?
Are the words, “I love you,” as soft as the cough of a good luck cricket?
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