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A Monk's Journey
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
"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 Basho, 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
"No, but I've been a partner all of my life and for now I need not
"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
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
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
- All haiku are by Basho whose translators are numerous.
The translations above were found at website titled "Basho”
and cited cited R.H. Blyth, W.J. Higginson, J. Reichhold and Sam
- Originally printed in Simply Haiku.