FROM BEYOND

My grandmother speaks to me
from time to time, in a voice that sounds
remarkably like my own, but the dead
borrow voices, it is so much easier
than exercising their own, and there
is so little need for words once they leave.
She hasn’t changed all that much,
still opinionated, still ready to have at it
with my mother, who strangely
doesn’t visit, doesn’t speak now
in any voice, but that may be
because the more recently departed
assume we remember what
they needed to say, and said
repeatedly before they died.
My grandmother still tells me
to carefully consider my actions,
to never confuse right and simple,
to remember her and never, ever
give another thought to Jack,
the bastard third husband
and the only one she ever dumped.

IS THAT SO 沙石集 三

If you find an orphan
do you take him as your own.
Do you feed and shelter him
and offer him your name.
Does he sit at your side
in silent meditation.
Do you willingly accept
the scorn of your neighbors
for your bastard child?

If his mother later comes,
will you part with him
and call him by his new name.
If you yield him freely
to his parent, he may
forever walk
as your shadow.


Reflection on parable 3 of the Shaseki-shu (Sand and Pebbles)