Bashō’s Child

      by W. S. Merwin

Beside the Fuji River
there is a lost child crying
dead for three hundred years
and who knows how many more
since the evening in autumn
when her mother carried her
out to the water noise
that would cover the sound of her crying
and then walked back into the silence
and the child cried all night
and into the frosty daylight
when the men who discovered her
stood over her like shadows
their hands talking but only
to each other until one of them
at last bent to put something
on the leaves beside her
before they all went away
with the sound of her crying
following him and following
the words he would write about her
wherever the words might go


From The Shadow of Sirius, Port Townsend, Washington: Copper Canyon Press, 2008, page 70. This book won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 2009.       +       +