When I get on a highway, or a mountain path,
I think about an accident which occurred years ago,
on the Long Island Expressway – a mother escaped her ruined vehicle
only to watch her young daughter’s head roll across the 6 trafficked lanes,
coming to rest by a patch of daisies planted on the median.
When I learned of this horror, I thought of you, Basho,
and your poem, Year after year on the monkey’s face
a monkey face.
Basho, when you say Learn about pines from the pine,
and about bamboo from the bamboo, I can do this.
When you are in Kyoto, longing for Kyoto
I am on my mountain, longing for my mountain —
walking among the things of this world that we call no world,
yet are, all the same, the world.
You say you are the hundred bones
and nine orifices of your body,
but my one foot stands to this side of the other,
without any recognition.The great horned owl, whose eyes stay fixed,
can turn its head 270 degrees
with the 14 tiny bones of its neck.
With you, Basho, I lie down
in the shade of a tree, and it knows us.
Together our heads roll with the wind,
are splattered with the rain.
Our eyes move with our necks.
Nothing is lost or used up.