A young child does not ask for meaning, all things are as they are until they are not. The foolishness of age causes men to stare in search of meaning they will never find. It is the blind man who will find the diamond.
A reflection on case 119 of Dogen’s Shobogenzo (True Dharma Eye) Koans
The rain came sideways today, or almost so. The cat decided that if she needed a bath, she’d give it to herself and opted to watch the storm through the sliding glass door to the lanai. When it ended, she ventured back out, checking out the various and sundry chairs, all hers she assumes, and settled for the recliner in the inner corner, as much for dryness as comfort, but clearly offering both. She invited us out to join her, but all of the other seats were damp from the storm. She didn’t see what that was a problem, she had only the one coat, we could change clothes any time we wanted. We decided to watch her through the sliding glass door.
As I was leaving the surgical center they handed me the sheet with my post-procedure instructions, a sign of faith perhaps, that I was sufficiently out of the sedation to know what I was given.
I tucked them in my pocket, anxious to get home, to get coffee and the food I’d been denied since midnight the night before just in case something went wrong and they had to put me fully under.
I did get relief from my pain but I tossed and turned in bed my sleep coming in fits and starts, for no apparent reason, and when I read the instructions this morning I checked off the side effect insomnia and gave a half check to irritability.
There are nights when the song of a single cricket can pull you away from sleep. She says that she has heard that not all Angels have wings and neither of them is sure how you would know if you met a bodhisattva. He searches the mail every day, for a letter from unknown birth parents but none of the credit cards he ought to carry offers to rebate his dreams. Each night they lie back pressed to back and slip into dreams. She records hers in the journal she keeps with the pen, by the bed. He struggles to recall his and places what shards he can in the burlap sack of his memory.
First Published in Where Beach Meets Ocean, The Block Island Poetry Project, 2013
The cat is stalking around the house, wary. She gets this way after coming back from the vet. She actually likes the vet, and not only for the treats she gets, and the pawdicure. But she must stalk and be wary so we will be remorseful for having taken her to the vet. And she knows we will be, given enough time and back turning. We are so predictable. She wonders if we were like that with our children when they were young. Probably, but we must have forgotten. So she will go on with our training, for a cat must bend humans to her will. That is an unwritten law of nature.
It will soon enough be time again, I am an old clockface on a tower at which no one but the truly bored bother to look, tucked in a corner of a village half empty, its life moved away to places cooler, less stormy. So I sit and watch what life remains around me, the few children wishing they could be elsewhere, some parents wishing they had used birth control. No one looks, no one really cares but I have little choice, it is my fate to mark passages, entrances, but my hands are growing tired and at some not far off point they will stop moving, and I wonder if anyone will care.
It is strange knowing that your vision is not what it was, not what you want it to be, not necessarily yours in the long run, one eye already semi-useless for reading and distance.
You adapt, get bigger monitors, a tablet to read the news, a magnifier when you need to hold newsprint in hand, a large screen television (okay, you wanted that regrdless of your vision).
You realize so many songs you once sung (badly) will no longer make sense, goodbye “I Can See for Miles,” and no more Johnny Nash, “I’m looking through you,” nope, and “If I still haven’t found what I’m looking for” U2 will just have to find it for me.