Birthday Letter from South Carolina
for Sarah, 21
star inside the apple
seed star quiet
Walking up this quiet, red-earth road,
I think of you there, near the white-
edged harbor; in a yellow kerchief,
in the blowing sunlight, you walk
along the concrete of the holding world.
You hold it all to your chest, the blue day, night,
long reading, long talk, —You hold
your kind, stumbling, sure
life in your hands.
Indian cloth, the goose-neck desk light . . .
Basho spent the first thirty years of his life
apprenticing; four years alone in a small hut
on the outskirts of Tokyo;
the last ten years
walking. Walking here
today I saw him, Basho, at the far edge of the field;
and you alongside him; your steps,
his long black and white steps stirring up
red mica dust to drift across the new day’s light, and the heat.
in the Mountain: New & Collected Poems