Frightening Things

by David Mura

After wandering years

Bashō returned

to gaze at his umbilical cord

pickled in a jar. Plopped

in brine years ago

like the frog in the pond

in his famous haiku.

Of course

fame meant nothing

to him. He stood

in the blazing rain

in his family graveyard

and as a crow squawked overhead

the stones proclaimed him

the last of his line. He

kept feeling inside his

straw raincoat for a missing

limb or the hole where

the wind and rain

flew in. I’ll get drunk

tonight, he thought,

and his eyelashes glistened

as he trudged back

to his hermit’s hut

to gaze again at the jar.

From The Last Incantations (Chicago: TriQuarterly Books, 2014).