IN A ROOM OF HORSE MANURE

My sister only wanted a horse
an my parents thought they could solve
that dilemma with a pony at her fifth birthday party
where she would get all the extra rides,
her friends and playmates be damned.
Like most great parental plans,
this one was doomed to failure,
and failure marched front and center
as they learned from the pony was loaded
back into the trailer and my sister
tried to tie herself to the trailer
with ribbon from her gift wrap.
She was never good with knots,
even when she died at 52, the cancer
having ravaged her one organ at a time,
but even in her waning days, she
whine to our mother that all she ever wanted
was a horse, then winked at me, staring
around her hospital room, since we both knew
there was a pony in there somewhere.

WHO IS HE? 無門關 四十語

Sitting with Shakya and Maitreya
in the utter stillness of early morning
you each strain to hear
the master’s voice.

Do not take up Shakya’s bow
or attempt to mount Maitreya’s horse
Do not engage Hoen in discussion
but look inward, hand
your bow to Maitreya,
the reins to Shakya.

There is only one horse, one bow
so see yourself sitting
peaceful and silent,
utterly alone.


A reflection on Case 45 of the Mumonkan (Gateless Gate)