Sing: A Poem

In the spirit of Mary Oliver’s poetic directive to put aside my worries and sing, I’ll share a poem that I wrote last month for a poetry class assignment. We were instructed to use old Japanese Haikus, and the Haiku masters, as jumping off points for writing our own poems. I based mine on the famous Haiku The Old Pond by Matsuo Basho.

The Old Pond
by Matsuo Basho
translation by Robert Hass

Old pond…
a frog jumps in
water’s sound.

Here’s another of the mind-boggling hundreds of translations this one simple three-line poem has inspired. This translation is by William J. Higginson…

An old silent pond…
A frog jumps into the pond,
splash! Silence again.

And now here’s the poem I wrote inspired by the above.

Sneaky Basho

I’m supposed to write with Basho
this week. I can’t find him.
I pour a second cup of coffee
throw in another load of laundry
cross the street to get the mail
text some friends
how goes?

I sit back in my chair
stare out the window at the Japanese Maple
just waking to spring.
Look again at my computer screen.
He’s still not there.

I pour a cup of tea
pick through piles
of papers and photos and books.
Suffocating surroundings
for poems to live
but that’s where I find him
the sneaky Basho
in an old picture.
My daughter at age four
in pink rain boots
a plastic ladybug jacket
Basho’s frog peeking out of her pocket.

Of course I should have asked
my daughter, she’s always known
where to look. Even at three
when she discovered death
she told me it’s OK Mama
when it comes I know where to find it again.
Under the fronds of the fern.

Just cup your hands and grab it.
Keep in your pocket. And wait
until the old puddle gathers
in slow circles drop by drop
in the sidewalk hollow out front
then jump in —
a giant splash
silence again.

—©Julie Naasko Deutscher

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