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. + +