Poem 3


Father’s teats


Thirty yeas ago, the house in Maine: the house

sits in a pasture – it’s got the aura of a steamship

sailing across a wavy sea. The pasture itself is

embedded in a dark forest of birch and fir that

crowds down-slope to a pair of black-eyed lakes.


Nobody mows the fields nor has in many years.

The pasture is consequently a mass of grassy tussocks,

treacherous to walk in. They are tussocks of a bright,

supple grass whose blades swirl close to the ground,

heightening the illusion of waves.


There’s a full moon. It’s grown cold, maybe cold

enough for a frost. It’s long after midnight, how long

none of us knows because we’ve been drinking all night —

nothing too unusual about that. I am a Buddhist back then —

one little Buddhist headed off the back porch to pee.


I’ve peed. I’m shivering, staggering among the

knee-high tussocks, exulting for mysterious reasons.

Except the moon is a sweet white eye, a smile of

clear light turning the dew on the grass to milk.

The house steams along somewhere alongside me.


The inevitable: I stumble, fall. There I sit: cold and empty

in the creamy grass: a happy baby at his hirsute

father’s breast. Maybe also inevitable:

a poemlet spurts out:


Oyasama above, below:

in the grass: father’s teats

are not dry.



The Buddhist nun Chiono was carrying a bucket

in which the full mood danced on top of the water.

She was enlightened in one stroke

when the bottom of her pail fell out.

For me it was the opposite. My pail was empty,

but when I looked down,

I had a bucketful of moon.


Frederick Lowe

Contemporary Haibun Online January 2013