The Narrow Aisle into the Market
Midway through the afternoon of the twelfth day of the fifth moon, my companion and I set out upon the long road that leads from my hut surrounded by tall grass to the great market that stands near the shore of the western inland sea. Far in the distance, on the peninsula that lies across the pale gray water, the tall mountains were cloaked in snow. It was the season in which men journey to remote lands to gather chestnuts.
Wrapped in a white cloak
A treasure waits for your hand—
Spring is in the air
We followed the well-worn paths that traversed the prefecture known as Snohomish, passing through villages large and small. At last, several hours before dusk, we arrived at the great market. Above the gates, ancient symbols had been inscribed long ago by the hand of the great Han Ah Reum himself. Some say he was a poet, others a powerful general who conquered many kingdoms, and still others believe he was not a man at all but the half-remembered words of a folk saying.
The cry of a crow—
Only the wind can recall
Words wafted away
We trekked deep into the great market, passing by villagers who struggled under the weight of produce carried from the Far Eastern Lands. My companion and I trudged through the narrow aisles that led to the place of the chestnuts. At last, as we were growing weak from fatigue, we discovered what we sought. To our delight, a confection had been placed next to the chestnuts, perhaps by an errant monk, as an offering to weary travelers.
Pale sticks like ivory