MUSING (4 HAIKU)

Out the plane window
a lake or a sea of clouds
Why does it matter?

 

during an eye blink
the butterfly spreads its wings
galaxies collapse

 

Cats curl in furred sleep
the moon crawls across the sky
a monk awakens

 

leaves cling to the trees
the rivers flow more slowly
the stone is unmoved

REVERY

Seen from a great distance
the rowboat is a speck
on a lake which appears far more
like an oversized pond.
You are so far off you cannot
see if there is a person in the boat
or it is merely floating about
free of its mooring,
imagining itself a water-lily
basking in the midday sun.
Your reverie is broken by the coo
of the dove flying over the fountain
in the garden, ever so careful
to have the water just caress her breast
before landing on the edge.
Seeing you, she preens,
dips her head in thanks
or simple acknowledgement of your presence
and lifts gracefully into the walnut
to join her impatient mate.

YAKUSAN’S LAKE 鐵笛倒吹 八十八

When you travel from home
and are asked if the lake
on the shore of which you live
is now full, what
can you say.
Will you speak of the rains
that soaked your fields
and what of the herd
of water buffalo
come to graze
since you have left.

The eye sees only now
the mind sees history
and the wise man
sees nothing.


A reflection on Case 88 of the Iron Flute koans.

THE LAKE

Sitting out in the middle
of the large lake
is a very small island.
It’s more of a large rock
just sticking out of the water,
but everyone calls it an island.
Moss grows all over the exposed part
so you don’t know it’s all stone
unless you row out to it,
which no one ever does.
No one goes out on the lake,
no one swims in it,
the lake is just there, growing
when it rains, shrinking
in the heat of summer.
And that is just fine
with the lake, although
it does like the occasional
pebble dropped into it
so it can ripple like a proper lake
even if no one sees.

IN DREAMS

Late in the night
a train rolled by
through the city, a few
miles down the hill
from here, its horn
muted but still required
at crossings.
I know it appeared
in my dreams,
but I cannot tell
if it was as the heron
in flight over the lake,
or the long bearded
hiker with the oversize
backpack who wandered
down our street
and became a slat
in the fence
at the dead end.