The thing about it is
it is so damn quiet
I can hear myself think
but I can’t think anymore.
And I’ll tell you
this box is so cold
it just leaks air
and water has seeped in.
Somehow I expected more
it isn’t at all what
and the stone
is not set straight
which is driving me
only slightly crazy,
so tell me
about my grandsons
are they still handsome
young men, do they have
girlfriends like your wife.
You know steel would
have worn far better
and white satin
would be so much
more cheerful than this blue,
it just clashes with
this white gown
which fits terribly anyway.
You should come to visit
more often, Hilda’s son
and all her grandchildren
visit each week, but me, no one.
Its starting to rain again
so go, you don’t want
to catch a cold, it could
kill you, of this I’m certain.
First Appeared in Children, Churches and Daddies, Vol. 117, 1998.
There is something gentle about her,
a softness, as though she arrived
on a gentle breeze, was present before you
felt her on the back of your neck, a smile
that cast your shadow on the snowy walk.
She was often like this, as though knowing
she might be an antidote to the harshness
of winter, and the losses that piled up
as time eroded our lives.
We were never sure of what we should say,
and so often opted for silence, but she
seem to welcome that too, as though it
marked a change from something
we would never fully understand.
We never knew when we might see her,
auburn coat dappled by the sun
but we welcomed the doe, and she us,
and that was always sufficient.
He is never certain what to do on days
like this one, when the winter takes
a particularly nasty turn, the temperature
hovers at utter emptiness, and the wind
elects to try to enfold everything it can reach
in a coat of frost, that bleaches life away.
He walks each day, through the nearby park
if the weather is the least bit cooperative,
through the neighborhood when not, where
at least he can take a small shelter from the wind
in the shadow of houses closed up tightly,
life walled away within, smarter, he imagines
than he is, his fingers ill-gloved, slowly losing
all feeling, but this is his practice, something
he does because it requires doing, heeding
an edict from an unspoken voice. And later
emerging from a hot shower, feeling limbs
restored, he glances at the weather in hopes
the next day will be kinder, and slow in coming.
I am the life
of a hundred million others,
you are the life
of a hundred million others,
a hundred million others
are my life, a hundred million
others arise from my death.
How may hundred million
are the same?
None of them will say.
A reflection on Case 29 of the Shobogenzo (Dogen’s True Dharma Eye)
Once, not long ago,
a river meandered
through our town.
Actually, there was
never a river here,
and our town is really
a small and shrinking city.
But the wistful look
on your face when I
mentioned the river is
reason enough to have one.
So now I have to move
somewhere in Connecticut
or Massachusetts, or start
digging a large channel
Hand me a shovel,
I hate New England.
A week ago there was a moment
that perfectly summed up life,
at least as seen by a three-year-old.
Three-year-olds know far more
than they are given credit for knowing,
far more, they are certain,
than their parents, and just enough
to make their grandparents laugh
at the most inopportune moments.
It was lunchtime, always a period
where so very much can go
so very quickly wrong, but all
was peaceful on this day, much laughter
and conversation until the moment
he twisted his mouth, and in a voice
more suited to an arena, announced
“I can’t believe . . .
I have salad . . .
in my mouth!”
In so many mythologies
earth is a woman, a mother,
and we arise from within her.
The pure and simple logic
of this assumption cannot
be assailed, for she is
the crux of all nature,
and as it seems in life,
it is all too often
the males that lay siege
and wage wars that
damage her deeply,
and the women whose tears
gently wash her wounds.