It is a large boulder in the middle of a rutted path. That path leads nowhere in particular. It comes to an end at the edge of what appears to be a dense forest. Several trees are posted with “Do Not Trespass” signs, long faded until you must stare to make out the words. The forest is foreboding, so it is not clear if anyone would willingly enter. Few ever come down the path. Fewer still make it to its end. The large boulder has been here for centuries. It stares up at the sky, in amazement.
A clouded night sky
hide and seek moon
Rain holds back
In deep laughter
trees sigh in response
A heron poses
standing on a single leg
We watch jealously
When did we stop being of the soil
and begin to fear it, to tell our children
not to touch the ground, it is dirty when
once it was only dirt, and we
put it in our mouths, from time to time
trying to drive our mothers crazy.
She says if you are going to plant
wear gloves, and when she walks away
I pull them off of my hands and plunge
fingers into the turned and dampened soil.
This, I am convinced, is how it is
supposed to be, how nature intended,
before designer dyed mulch, rubber mulch,
before we became the robots
our parents’ sci-fi writers anticipated.
Later, in the shower, scraping the dirt
from beneath fingernails, I watch
as it flows reluctantly down the drain
I bid farewell to that bit of my childhood
but I swear I won’t deny my grandchildren.
As you stoop
to pick up fallen leaves
are you cleaning spring,
summer or autumn?
What seasons are deep
within the winter branch?
How does your work
and that of the tree
truly differ, and
do you shed?
A reflection on case 83 of the Shobogenzo (Dogen’s True Dharma Eye)
In the center of every city
there ought to be a park,
an expanse of green, trees
older than the first European to arrive,
so old they need not feign indifference
to the humans who have invaded
and refused to leave despite the mother (nature)’s
request that they do so immediately.
Some cities comply, but only partially
for they place the parks on the periphery
and save their core for the tall buildings,
stacked cubes chock-full of small cubes,
little boxes and to which people go each day
before returning to their own boxes, large
enough and sometimes ghastly large
that surround the city. This is where
the city knows the Park should be, and if people
don’t like it, the city doesn’t really care.
In so many mythologies
earth is a woman, a mother,
and we arise from within her.
The pure and simple logic
of this assumption cannot
be assailed, for she is
the crux of all nature,
and as it seems in life,
it is all too often
the males that lay siege
and wage wars that
damage her deeply,
and the women whose tears
gently wash her wounds.
The dolphin knows
precisely when to feed
when to bless the day
when to swim south
feels the pull of the tides.
Each day at noon
he walks across the factory floor
shavings, and up
the metal staircase
into the small office
its windows overlooking
the shop floor and pushes
the red button
mounted on the wall.
The whistle peals over town
as people glance reflexively
at their watches.
When asked, he says
it is always precisely noon
never sooner, never later
he is certain, for he checks
the clock on the steeple
of the ancient church
set each Friday by the parson
to insure God’s work
is promptly done.
Each day at ten before six
the parson climbs the ancient
wooden steps into the bell tower
and staring at his watch, waits
until the hands align
then leans into the rope
as the bell rings out six times
then he climbs down and walks
across the neatly trimmed lawn
to the small white clapboard
house that sits on the edge
of the cemetery behind the church.
It is precisely six he says
for each day at noon
he sets his watch
to the factory whistle.