Chen-ou Liu's Translation Project: First English-Chinese Haiku and Tanka Blog

Saturday, July 28, 2018

The Old Man Who Read Basho

a body
under the outdoor staircase
crumpled balls of paper

He often came to the library shortly before it opened and wouldn’t leave until the chief librarian walked him out. He spent most of his time leafing through old encyclopedias and vintage copies of The Paris Review. He wasn’t much of a talker, but occasionally he gave a monologue on what he had read or thought about. I was one of his few (reluctant) listeners.

Recently, he had trespassed into the contemporary world, venturing onto the Internet, typing with one finger. The day before he died, he stopped me on the way out and surprised me by saying, “I've enjoyed reading some of your haiku on Twitter.” He slipped a piece of paper into my hand and left.

lotus pond …
all that remains
of frog song

Haibun Today, 12:2, June 2018