BOKUSHU’S BLOCKHEAD 鐵笛倒吹 語十語

Seeing your teacher on the road
if he says to you
Honorable Sir, what do you do?
You may turn, bow, and act the fool
or pass, eyes averted
without acknowledgement, silent
equally the fool.

Speak in silence,
face, bow without moving
greet him as you do yourself
in the morning mirror
and once past, offer gassho
and the fool is left on the path
dragging your shadow.

A reflection on Case 55 of the Iron Flute Koans

MOVING

When we tell friends
and acquaintances that we
are moving up the coast,
they look at us quizzically.

We think they wonder why
we are leaving our friends,
a world we have come to know,
for a place so alien to us.

We tell them that was by far
the hardest part, letting go
of those we treasure, hoping
they will soon come to visit.

They laugh, nod, and say yes,
but what they meant was that
it is so quiet up there, boring,
and at that we nod and smile.

IN MOTION

This time when we move
the question could be asked,
are we moving to somewhere
or away from somewhere
or, you fear asking, away from someone.

That may be a truth left
unsaid, saying requires
an explanation, a ripping open
of a wound just scabbed over
or still raw around the edges.

And there is a hidden risk
in the question, for an honest
response might hold up a mirror,
one you never imagined might
show the world your face.

It may be that it is the right
time and the right place,
nothing more, so we offer that
and you may grasp it if you wish,
it might even be the truth,
but you’ll never know, will you?

FROZEN

At 4:53 this morning, all of the clocks stopped.
Time simply froze although we kept moving,
going on with our lives.
But time ceased to matter at all.
That was fine with us.
For the first time in memory, we
did not grow older,
for no time had passed.
It was a strange feeling,
one we hadn’t had since we
were babies and unable
to comprehend time.
At some point the clocks
began moving again, we
began aging, and soon
we awoke from our dreams.