Bashō’s Frog

     by Marvin Bell



The plop of Bashō’s famous frog

when it leapt into the pond,

thus seeming to pierce the ancient water,

which circled and instantly resealed itself,

offers us the chance

to crack the silence that overtook

the empires and their far flung armies

by hearing again that which

the armies could not kill. So, too,

those who traveled to New Zealand to see

the full eclipse firsthand were able

afterward to feel again the shiver

that overtook the land when the night arrived

ahead of time. And to remember

the cries of the roosters when it was over.

Bashō’s frog at the plop!—

it’s the provable moment to be registered

among the plopping and croaking and wind

shaking the cherry blossoms

out of the trees while we were still on the road

going to see them.



From Rattle #29, Summer 2008.