moon woke me up nine times

moon woke me up ephemera

Blades of grass
a firefly lands
takes off again

Matsuo Bashō

a bruised peach
softens a
callused palm

Fallen persimmon, shriveled chestnut.
I see myself too clearly.

A poet named for a banana tree!

Some lines of my own come back:

Year after year
on the monkey’s face—
a monkey mask.

I suppose I know what I want:
the calm of a wooden Buddha,
the state of mind of that monk
who forgot about the snow
even as he was sweeping it!

But I can’t run away from the world.
I sit and stare for hours at
a broken pot or a bruised peach.
An owl’s call makes me dance.

I remember a renga we wrote
that had some lines by Boncho:

somebody dusts the ashes
from a grilled sardine…

And that’s the poem! That sardine!
And when it is, I feel
it is the whole world too.

But what does it mean
and how can it save you?
When my hut burned down
I stood there thinking,
“Homeless, we’re all of us homeless…”

Or all my travels, just so much
slogging around in the mire,
and all those haiku
squiggles of light in the water…

Foraging, 1986


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