A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
Thank you for sending your new poems.
I have a question.
But first I want to tell you I traveled North by bus the other day
to watch the pueblo dances, and there was a man on a high pole.
He had a dead lamb with him, whose neck had been slit.
The pole was a hundred feet in the air, and he leapt and twirled
on a small platform, which wobbled with his movements.
You would have liked to have seen his body, covered in sweat,
shimmering in the sun like a thousand yellow leaves.
That night I dreamt I was in a park of tall leafy trees
in various shades of autumn. I had a baby boy
in a backpack slung from my shoulders,
when out of nowhere appeared an enormous snake,
and in one wide bite it ate the baby off my back.
I woke with the morning light,
sweat pooling in the hollow between my collarbones.
Basho, what is the world if it is not this uneasy faith
puddling and drying as we thrust ourselves toward the sky?
You have been dead over three hundred years,
but I feel you, Basho,
the length of your back, its weight across pine when you lie down.
Your knobby right hand, a stylus between your fingers.
I feel the way you feel yourself,
so many brown and silvering leaves,
each atop or underneath another.
Elizabeth Jacobson’s second book, Not into the Blossoms and Not into the Air, won the New Measure Poetry Prize, selected by Marianne Boruch. (c) 2019 by Parlor Press. Used with permission.