Come December, the trees of Jōzenji would bead
with white lights, so the nights prickled with impulse,
and the faintest footfall of snow would delight.
The whole row was aglow, suffusing with ice,
a parade of starlight that could but fold and gutter
through the splitting of spring and summer’s buzzed flourish,
leaving barely a trace of that galaxy of ghosts.
And now loss is blossoming all over, maybe
no ashen zelkova will miss those lost lights,
or pine like the half-life pines east of Sendai,
cold-shouldered by mist, cast adrift,
where even Bashō failed to contain himself,
to stay rooted and pure, and climb like a pine
to look one more day over the bay, then die.