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.