At Shiki's haiku museum in Matsuyama, his almost-lifesize cardboard likeness shocked me as I came around a corner. His watercolors of persimmons, which he loved, and some of his belongings and other writings are in this museum, and their small paper frailty brings forth the man who died such a young and slow painful death from spinal tuberculosis.. It hasn't been that long ago, really, maybe slightly more than 100 years that he lived here and wrote so many astonishing haiku. Here are two of them in English versions.
an iris whiter at twilight in spring
A carp leaps up crinkling the autumn moonlight
Look around, something womdeful is happening where you are, something of the grass, the birds or the trees. Walk down by the creek and look. Last night on TV we watched a show about Kit Carson, whose Arapahoe wife's name, Waa-Nibe, translates as Singing Grass. Right now in California, after the rains, grass spears spring up everywhere. Maybe they are singing . . .