They say you cannot go home again, although I have never had occasion to meet them.
I’ve never been one to follow the dictates of them, unless they were my parents or spouse, and in the case of my parents, often not even when they demanded it, so I went back to the home of my childhood, a shockingly new place as I remembered it, setting the neighbors astir as they saw it go up and out.
It, like I, am older now, but seemed to have borne time far more harshly than I.
I do sometimes have a gait to accommodates arthritic knees, move a bit slower than I imagine, but the house seemed to be looking for its cane knowing it would soon enough require a walker, and I knew that while I could go home I’d be happier if I didn’t.
First of all, Jack, you were sent to the corner for a reason. That pie was for everyone, not just you, we have told you endlessly about how wrong selfishness is. You won’t listen. And how many times do we have to tell you to use a fork or a spoon. Not only did you ruin the pie, no one wants to eat what is left once you put your hand in it. And how are we supposed to get that stain off your white shirt? Good boy? Oh, no, anything but, so you are grounded for a week.
The abiding Buddha nature of birds is demonstrated by their calm ability to carry on conversations in the presence of interacting humans, who are too often deaf to the sounds in which nature immerses them.
But when we speak to the birds in a crude facsimile of their native chirp, caw and trill, they pause to listen, strain to understand us, wishing only to let us know their thoughts, their love of nature, and just how shocked and disappointed they are at our inability to exercise our stewardship.
Take one part Grand Marnier, one Frangelico, a short cup of coffee, whipped cream only if you wish, curl on the sofa with your life’s greatest love and your first real, truly your first Christmas Eve makes you wonder why you waited so long.
First published in The Poet: Christmas (2020 United Kingdom)
When a leaf leaves the tree it falls precisely where it should. When a flower petal is carried off on a strong wind it comes to rest in the proper place. When you smell the sweet aroma of next summer’s roses use the nose you had before your parents were born.
A reflection on case 32 of Dogen’s Shobogenzo (The True Dharma Eye) Koans
If I were a character in a novel, say by Kawabata, that evening we met twenty years ago, I would have placed my hand lightly on your shoulder, and I would have felt a heat, embers of a passion that would, in hours, leave me consumed by it.
I was a middle-aged, soon to be divorced man on his first date in thirty years, imagine a teenager knowing what not to do, but with no idea of what to do save chatter and periodically gaze at his shoes.
I was, as the evening progressed, bold enough to take your hand, and hoped that my fear and anxiety might be mistaken as romantic, or bold and daring, anything but the reality that was consuming me.
We’ve been together twenty years, and as I read Kawabata again, I recall those first moments, but in this revised edition it was your passion I felt in that first touch, a flame that consumes me to this day.
The clouds this evening are the deep gray that so long to be black, but the retreated sun just below the horizon lingers long enough to deny them.
The space, shrinking, between the clouds, is the gray of promise that the night will soon deny, and the birds who take over the preserve, chant their vespers, each in his or her own language, uncommon tongues singing their hymn punctured, punctuated by the flapping of wings, as the night encloses us in a cocoon that will carry us into the coming morning.