It is Spring
and I press my ear
to still barren soil
to hear the hypnotic thrum
of sap reaching slowly skyward
engine straining against gravity
earthworms beginning
their tunneling, marshaling
armies for an exodus
through ever night soil.
I listen to the bud
its velour face
unfolding before
the stillborn sky,
a robin, breast unfurled
stares at me in wonder.


Tonight I will again
walk through my dream
scrapbook re-creating you.
For a bit longer, at least, I
have full creative expression
knowing now that you died
six years ago, never married.
I will search from
the carefully or inadvertently
dropped clue, your obituary,
bits and facts that could
never have come from the
adoption file, beacons
however faint that will
lead me into the harbor
of my true identity.
But for now I can imagine you
sitting in a corner at
the singles dance, looking
as your sisters pleaded
for a nice young man, long
past being fussy.
It didn’t take much
for him to sweep you
away, at least for
that one evening, away
from the teletype keyboard,
away from the cramped apartment.
I do wonder if your brother
finished college, was at
the same one you left
when the war made money tight.
I can fashion all of these things
into an ever shifting mural
of my own life, but soon enough
I will search, and with some luck
will find our shared name.
I may never see your face
save in the mirror or
the eyes of my granddaughter,
but in her smile, in the smile
of your grandson, I know
you better than you
could ever have imagined.


I never expected this, he said. It came from out of nowhere. None of us predicted it. It’s a sort of thing that happens elsewhere, but not here, at least that was our assumption. We certainly never wanted it to come to this. But come it did, and so we accepted it. We learned to like the placidity of its face. We were lost for a while but our lives returned to their normal pace, the rhythms of the day overwhelmed us, and our lives went on. We never bothered to fashion a new year. We were satisfied with perfection twice each day.


As you walk through
this particular space
will you see a small
child perched on a stool,
crayons in hand, a small
rectangle of paper
on the top of the desk
laughing, creating
a world you could
never hope to understand,
or an older woman, leaning
on her walker, staring
into the canvas, struggling
to see each brush stroke
and three workmen
white hard hats, retractable
rules and laser levels,
measuring the gallery
against the blueprint
which are artists —
which is art —
does it matter?


We walk forwards
to try to see
where we are going,
always wanting
but never seeing
where we have been.
Is it better to
walk backward
seeing clearly
where we will not go
without idea
of a destination.
Look down and decide.

A reflection on Case 92 of the Shobogenzo (Dogen’s True Dharma Eye)



They appear at the margins, peeking out. They are teasing, revealing just a bit, alluring, but we know they are holding back. It is a delicacy at which we marvel for we know it is a matter of days before they end this dance, drop their veils. Even the faintest hint of their perfume is intended to entrap us, to draw us closer, certain that once their hook is set, our addiction will overwhelm us and we will return again and again, unable to say to ourselves “it is this they count on, and year after year we do not fail them.” In days this burlesque will end, they will show all, and we, drunk with lust, will give into our baser passions and pledge ourselves to their soon fading beauty.