Sonnet for Basho

By Robert Annis
 

               Furu ike ya kawazu tobikomu mizu no oto
                                                          —Matsuo Basho

My forehead offered to the dirt, bare feet
to the sky—prostrations before an oak
aren’t just liturgy. Florida’s autumn heat
penetrates this curtain of boughs. Sweat soaked,
I bow to each leaf’s shadow. This mudra
alone cannot teach me being rooted.
Words are duplicitous, simulacra:
I am the sun trembling on water,
a cascade of atoms and waves of light
means nothing. A squirrel-loosed acorn falls
from the branch above my head and collides
with the base of my skull. My singing bowl,
my old pond, my frog, my splash of water—
all of them drowned in the sound of laughter.


Robert Annis received his MFA from the University of South Florida, where he works as an advisor at the Office of National Scholarships. He is co-editor for Sweet: A Literary Confection.