As 33,000 feet, you want the smoothness that experience tells you, the sky will once again deny. Strapped in, you contemplate cursing the gods of travel, but no, they are simply meeting your expectations. Getting this close to heaven was once, she says, a mystical and spiritual experience, but then we transcended all of that with the first step on the lunar surface, overall a small step from one man and a crushing of dreams for all but the great religious cynics of mankind. With clouds below obscuring all you know the sun is mocking, surrounding your dark mood, painting it darker and you begin to hope that the thunderstorm that will greet your arrival can somehow wash away the hesitation of an eternity trapped in a seat on the lowest margins of heaven.
The truly sad thing is not that billions were spent on the voyage to our most distant planet only to discover, on arrival it wasn’t a planet at all, merely a dwarf, a near planet and yet there was no rebate for the downgrade. Life is too often like that, you want a mulligan and all they say is “no returns, no refunds.” No one asked Charon what he thought watching it all as he wandered about knowing he will remain moon for so long as there is someone, somewhere assigning names, unless he grows bored, breaks free and wanders off into being a dwarf planet all his own, after all it’s not like Styx would give a damn – better to be a moon of the first order finally and as for those billions, if you can’t leave the solar system every now and again there’s not much purpose in escaping the atmosphere.
The moon hid from me last night in a cloudless sky, and only a week from full, so we both knew it was there, peeking for a brief moment from behind the old oak in the neighbors yard. It wasn’t the first time the moon had done this, it will not be the last either, I am certain, but I do remember the time in 1970, the heat of San Antonio in mid-summer more oppressive than usual and only the old barracks for the moon to use as hiding place. Yet it hid, and that night I didn’t mind Lying in the base hospital, where the nurses ignored me for the seriously wounded, as they should reading the orders issued that day transferring me to the Reserves as my fellow air policemen in my training squadron were calling home, most in shock, to announce that their plan to avoid Vietnam by enlisting would soon be scattered on the tarmac of Da Nang Air Base.
As the seasons change I will stand with one foot on the highest peak and the other at the bottom of the deepest sea. But do not ask that I stand in a place where there is no Buddha, or my feet and legs shall fall away into the void.
A reflection on Case 68 of the Shobogenzo (Dogen’s True Dharma Eye) Koans
a winter night clouds digest the moon cars drive turning lights out disappearing neon signs stare beckoning vacancy open space super condensed matter she moans I love you to starched sheets shrouds wrap her loins a cat scampers into a bush dragging the sun melting the highway electrons run crashing into nothing quantum leaps
First appeared in Erothanatos, Vol. 3, No. 3, July 2019 at Pg. 43
It is her time and she knows she is ready for this moment, has been for eons, knows it will come again but none here will remember this day. She stares at them, but they ignore her, and she grows angry, her visage reddens as she slowly retreats, know the interloper will move along, hoping that her return later will provoke the sort of interest she deserves, the sort she know she should command. She teased them weeks ago, but this moment must surpass that, and will, if only the clouds play along with her. She knows clouds are fickle, but even mother nature usually concedes if only begrudgingly, and tonight should be one of those occasions. She will not see them gather, but her arrival will be heard in the collective sigh and the memories she knows they will carry into their eternity.