JIZO’S BUDDHISM 鐵笛倒吹 四十八

In setting along the path
do you follow Hofuku
covering your eyes so as
not to see evil, ears so
as not to hear it
and close your mind
to wandering ideas
or is Jizo’s path
yours as well?

With eyes shut tight
the mind will still see,
with ears covered sound
will echo, growing louder
with no hope of escape.
With open eyes
light is reflected, with ears
open fully, sound passes
freely and flitters away
and the empty bowl
is filled with potential.

A reflection on Case 48 of the Iron Flute Koans.

BLOSSOM

I remember the cherry trees
along the reflecting pool, though
except in April they mostly reflected
a partially clouded sky promising rain.

Their pinkness was a tone I have
searched for since, and came
closest in Tokyo, jealous of the emperor
and his gardens so carefully tended.

It is that time again, and this year
as in so many past, I will not see
my reflection in the city of my birth,
nor the pink rain that falls slowly

in April’s first strong breeze, I
will not scoop up a handful of pink
and cast it into the sky, only to fall
yet again, to the joy of a nearby child.

I will dream of Tokyo, of the two trees
In a corner of Senso-ji, alight in pink
under the always watchful eye
of Buddha and the smiling jizos.

MEMORIAL

This woman approaches
the stone, carefully places
sake and cherry blossoms
and leans a sotoba against it,
before bowing and walking away.
It is what you do for a son,
she says, looking at the bibbed Jizo
hoping she can protect
the child who lies beneath.

That woman approaches
the headstone,
gently places the flowers
and leans a prayer card
against its polished surface,
kneels briefly, looking up
at the statue of the Son
who also died for our sins,
begs him to protect.
the child who lies beneath.

A DRY GARDEN LAUGHING

In the heart of Nara Park
there is a five story pagoda.
Deer appear, standing sentinel
along the lantern lined walk.
Up the unseen hill
the Temple bell announces
the full arrival of morning
as the Golden Buddha awakens.
Young children can see
all of this through eyes
unlensed, and fetter free.
They watch clouds
release a cascade
of tiny maple leaves
which flow over sitting monks,
a stream washing spring
into the waiting valley.
I sit with my granddaughter
in the center of a dry garden.
The Jizo will watch us.
The three of us throw
leaves into the air
as the wrens echo our laughter
in a five tiered cacophony