A Monk's Journey (A Haibun) - Poem by Ray Rasmussen
courtesan and monk,
we sleep under one roof together,
moon in a field of clover
Outside, apple blossoms glow in the dusk. She lies on her side, head propped up on a pillow, her eyes telling me that something important is coming, my eyes taking in the candlelight on her breasts.
'I need to know more about you, ' she says.
'Do you mean about being a monk? '
'Yes, because right now you don't seem very much like a monk.' She glances at my hand wandering slowly along the curve of her hip.
'You're thinking about Christian monks, the ones who lived in dank cells, ate lentils and hard bread; the ones who whipped themselves. Think instead about Bashō , the Japanese monk who traveled extensively, shared his poetry with peasants and samurai nobles, loved flowers, enjoyed the company of women. Think more of a European troubadour with haiku as his song.'
I'm a wanderer
so let that be my name—
the first winter rain*
'Does this mean that I'm just someone who happens to sleep with you? '
'No, but I've been a partner all of my life and for now I need not to be.'
'So what am I? ' she asks. 'I don't know how to tell my friends whatever it is we're doing. It feels like more than dating or having sex and it's not friendship because I don't sleep with my friends.'
the bee emerges from deep
within the peony*
'Can't we simply enjoy what we have, ' I reply.
'I'm reluctant to give up the feel of your skin against mine, but I'll have to think about this.' She pecks a kiss, dresses and leaves.
A week later her note arrives: 'I have such good memories of our moments together. It's a gift to desire and be desired, but we need such different things.'
sitting propped against
the same worn post*
1 All haiku are by Bashō whose translators are numerous. The translations above were found at the website titled 'Bashō ' which cited R.H. Blyth, W.J. Higginson, J. Reichhold and Sam Hamill:
2 Haibun and haiku are genres invented by Bashō , a Japanese monk who traveled the length of Japan and kept travel journals interspersed with haiku.
3 Information about the haiku & haibun forms can be found Here:
http: //contemporaryhaibunonline.com/pages_all/haibunde finitions.html
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