A MEMORY OF BASHO IN MY MOTHER'S
BITTER ORANGE RIND DESSERT
My mother asked me to look over
on the stove so it wouldn’t burn while she
gave the girls a bath. I could hear them
frolicking in the sudsy water, splashing.
I peer into my mother’s pot of bitter orange
rind dessert so that it doesn’t burn. Bubbles
form and pop on the surface. I check the heat,
making sure to stir. As I do so, orange aroma
and sugar rises to my nostrils. I think of Basho
by the river’s edge. It is spring time. Budding
plum trees everywhere, and their smell makes
the poet want to jump in for a swim. Dew
forms droplets on the surface of grassy slopes.
A deer smells honeysuckle in the air. A swan
swims away toward the light, this vanishing
point at the bottom of my mother’s pot;
I hear the moans of my own delight deep
in my throat. I taste her dessert and say this
poem under my breath.