Rock Hunting with Bashō, Dallas Road, February

      by Terry Ann Carter

We start at Mile Zero, a good place
to begin. Park the car and walk down
the few steps to water’s edge.
I’m worried about his sandals
and thatched hat, perhaps
the mendicant monk needs
galoshes and ear muffs
bright-coloured mitts.

There will be tales from his island
and a begging bowl, I tell him
not to worry: we’ve got Barb’s
Fish and Chips, the Empress Hotel.

In Beacon Hill Park, Bashō points
to leaf-scatter, the lone crow
on a bare branch. Soon we are gazing
at the horizon, waiting for a haiku
to come. From somewhere.

I watch the master throw his gaze
to the mountains across the Strait.
Is he longing for sacred Fuji?
Is he homesick?

I decide on some beach yoga
to calm ourselves. We stretch
legs into sand, raise arms up
over our heads. Look, he says,
the white underbellies of gulls.
The world around us one colour.

The great teacher looks down.
Finds a peach pit, embedded
in driftwood. A constellation
imprinted here. Yes, he winks
I love to write about rocks.

He faces the darkening sky:
loneliness, he says, with a changed
expression, when the cicada’s cry
pierces stone
. Wax on, wax off, I think.

It’s time to warm up, stop
for green tea. Silk Roads
is right up the street.

Previously unpublished. Shared here with the poet
s permission.