Beauty Studies

David Ebenbach

Teacher, I think I do have that set of nested bowls/
in my heart this spring morning. But can you talk about the blossoms
without mentioning the sense of danger, like a snowbank overhead
for the avalanche? Or is it the danger of them leaving us? Already
the snow snows down as I leave to go home/
tangled feet. But it’s not danger at all, not unless you’re me
and you can’t accept beauty without sharpening knives somewhere.
So let’s say seeing them extends my life/ seventy-five more years,
seventy-five more years of not knowing,
but doing it under these low, bright clouds.
Late in your short life you still saw them,
and you warned us the beginning verse/ should not
resemble our faces/
budding cherry blossoms. But what about the final verse, or
the ones in between? Teacher who left us, you cured an aching head
with these blossoms, and show me how.


Note: Translations of Basho by Jane Reichhold.

David Ebenbach is the author of Autogeography, a chapbook of poetry (Finishing Line Press); The Artist’s Torah (Cascade Books), a guide to the creative process; and two collections of short stories—Between Camelots (University of Pittsburgh Press) and Into the Wilderness (Washington Writers’ Publishing House). Ebenbach has a PhD in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an MFA in Writing from Vermont College. He teaches creative writing at Georgetown University. Find out more at


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