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Traveling Toward the Vache Qui Pue River

Basho Attempts to Translate Robert Bly

read by the author

I am walking very slowly across Minnesota
Inside a car with no engine and no seats.
I have left the seats in a hundred country towns and the
Old squat around on them and dream of onions. In country towns
Sitting down is never the same as standing.
It is dusk but I have forgotten why.
It is also Minnesota, whatever that means.

The moon floats out of the turkey sheds
Dragging the turkeys and their smells with it.
The soybeans are myopic, you can hear them
Sulking and kicking each others’ shins.
The lamplight collapses on the grass
Like a spavined frog.

Suddenly the moon flaps past
And smashes itself against the box-elder.
Wearing my bottomless car I slouch over a bridge
And listen with unspeakable sympathy
While two Aquarians try to screw their boat to the river.
I teach them a chorus of the Vache Qui Pue, and they
Unscrew the boat. They have never heard
Of Missoula, Montana, where I was happy.