Terrace deep as the sky.
Stone bench where I sit and read,
I wandered by myself
Into the heart of the mountains of Yoshino.
In one hand a book, in the other, a bag made of newsprint–
No weather beaten bones here
Just lichis bought in the market,
Thirty rupees per kilogram.
Stalks mottled red tied up with string,
Flesh the color of pigeon wings —
Sunlight bruises air
Pine trees blacken.
Where shall I go?
The Dhauladhar peaks
Are covered in snow.
This poem is part of the cycle of poems inspired by Basho, in Meena Alexander’s new book Birthplace with Buried Stones (TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern University Press, forthcoming Fall 2013)