The leaves will soon begin
their descent from the small tree,
already brown, their beauty
departing before they do so.
They are bilobular, an odd word,
but one that belongs in a poem,
even this one it seems, and it is
their shape that you first notice.
The tree will all to soon be naked,
branches sticking into the air
as if searching for a breath
that refuses to arrive.
But we know that soon after
the small buds will open
and orchid-like flowers will appear
to our all too temporary joy.
Look out of the window
the garden is barren
of oaks, nor is this
a Temple in China.
If you listen carefully
a thousand branches
bend quietly in the wind,
a simple wave washing
oak leaves onto
A reflection on case 37 of the Mumonkan (Gateless Gate)
As I stare out the window and watch
the snow slowly build on the limbs
of the now barren sugar maple, painting
it with a whiteness that bears heavily
giving the smaller branches a better
view of the ground in which their
fruit of the summer lies buried.
I am forced to wonder if the maple
continues to watch me, if its vision
is clouded by the snowy blanket
in which it wraps itself this day,
and if it does, what must it think
of someone so sedentary when it,
bearing its winter burden can still
dance gently in the morning wind.
We sit on our lanai, which
the birds will tell you is
the backyard of their preserve
and watch the sun bid
its blazing farewell to this day.
The birds begin their scheduled
return, ibis in groups,
the self-declared top guns
flying in hot and flat, only
dropping their arrestor hook
as the approach the deck.
The egrets fly in solo
carefully circling, then
extending their landing gear
until they gently alight
and await their next mission
which will come with dawn.
Through it all the anhinga
perch on the bare branches,
offering their direction, happy
to play air traffic controller,
but the limpkins find
my whole metaphor foolish
and too loudly let me know.
The hawk sits in one of the highest
branches of the tree, his red shoulders
blazing in the morning sun, both
staring down on those of us trapped
by gravity, by the weight of our thoughts,
as we pass by slowly below.
From time to time the hawk
will offer a short commentary, never
ceasing her stare, an amiable Goddess
who finds mere mortals pleasant
entertainment, but soon she
is more interested in a meal,
and as we depart, the squirrel
watching from the foot
of a nearby palm realizes
it is time to quickly practice
frolicking among the fronds.