Walk the Line

      by Judy Halebsky

Bend the spine of a thesaurus—
my shadow map, guide of distances,
atlas of cities

if this book were a bridge I would trust my weight to it

            late bloomer, mountain azalea, dwarf pine

the letters didn’t always make words
there were years and years
when they just stayed letters

            I have come to feel moss under water
            I have come to put my feet in the creek

Bashō and Sora on pilgrimage
write on their hats:
no home in heaven or earth
on this path we go two together

            (monks on pilgrimage, by two we go
            the monk alone but with the dharma
            Bashō alone but with Sora
            me in the library with 20,000 other fools
            and a mother who wants a postcard
            a line on a Christmas note
            a baby girl to walk
            a two-wheel bicycle, a spelling bee
            a pirouette, a finger to trace the letters across the page
the letters to make a song)

some say they fought
some say they parted in anger

after Sora stayed behind
Bashō let the words by two we go
wash off his hat in the rain

at graduation, my mother, hands in the air
shouts, it’s a miracle, a miracle


From Tree Line, Kalamazoo, Michigan: New Issues Poetry & Prose, 2014.