I tell him I am thinking of becoming
a rabbi, someone just like him,
a man who saw so many through
all manner of crises, joyous events.
He sits back in his unsteady chair,
one he refuses to replace, this one
finally broken in, he says with that
gentle smile that melts anger, anxiety.
You would do well at it, I know, he says,
and I will gladly write you a recommendation
but think about this carefully, it is
not the life you might imagine it to be.
But before you decide, he adds,
reaching among a stack of books,
read these, handing me two volumes
that I did not imagine would change my life.
And somewhere, I have my own copies
of Alan Watt’s “Beat Zen, Square Zen and Zen”
and “The Book:On the Taboo Against
Knowing Who You Are?”, and I then knew.