Hunters

 

Out at Pine Grove at sunset looking for cranes,

     the mauled carcass

of a deer not twenty feet away. A hunter

     comes by sprouting a vivid orange cap.

          We talk briefly, like members of neighboring tribes

whose fathers fought

     long ago to a bloody standstill,

 

and who now seek out the company of wild animals.

     What have you got,

he asks. Cranes, I tell him. They've been passing over

     all day. When he sees the twisted torso

          in back of me, he kneels down, thinks a minute, says

coyotes,

     two or three of them, last night about dusk.

 

Following the example of an ancient priest who

     is said to have

traveled thousands of miles with no care for comfort,

     thereby attaining a state of ecstasy

          under the pure beams of the moon, Basho left home

in August

     of the first year of Jyokyo among wails

 

of the autumn wind, determined to become a pure

     bride of the wind,

skeleton by the side of the road, unknown

     to all but the ants and the coyotes

          of that country, said to have been some species of

featherless bird

     that sings small songs of complicated kind.

 

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