Stand on the hill
and look into the valley.
Stand in the valley
and look upon the hill.
Do you see yourself
in either place, do you
see yourself in both
or are they one place
hidden from your vision.
A reflection on case 86 of the Shobogenzo (Dogen’s True Dharma Eye)
Do not suggest
you can only be enlightened
on a cold day in hell
unless you are prepared
to carry the air conditioner
across the River Styx.
has Buddha nature
of the heads will say so.
A reflection on Case 85 of the Iron Flute koans. And if you haven’t guessed, Monday for a while, will be reflection on koan’s day.
Autumn dropped by this morning,
a wholly unwelcome visitor, and
although her visit was short,
it was a foreboding for which we
were not yet ready, not that we ever are.
The gulls along the river
discussed this at length, and even
the two Red Tailed Hawks
high overhead, swooped in agreement.
We simply turned up our collars
and walked a bit faster, knowing
the heat would soon return,
but that the foretaste of winter
would linger on our tongues
far longer than we would desire.
We are in the season of stasis
where nothing wants to move and nothing
should shed the mantle of snow
that has announced winter’s arrival
in terms we full understand, as do
the finches clinging to the feeder
casting nervous glances skyward.
The neighbor’s cat has decided
that the remote chance of catching
a bird or squirrel is easily outweighed
by the warmth of the house, and even
the dogs down the block have found
their own lawns much more to their liking.
We know our feet will thaw
after our morning walks, but suspect
this may happen only with the Spring
that seems impossibly far away, and so
we imagine ourselves bulbs, clinging
to what warmth the earth offers
knowing the bloom has infinite patience.
The temperature falls, slowly at first
but gaining speed, as though
in the grip of winter’s gravity.
Winter has the potential to be
a black hole season into which
we enter and imagine we
will never reemerge into spring.
The wind whispers stories to us
of a time when this was all ice
when no one complained of a chill
for there was no one.
We turn up our collars to remind
the wind that we will remain here,
for nature has given us
an equal dose of stubbornness.
Atop the hill
the trees are filigree
against the fading light.
The tents are fireflies
twinkling as night
reclaims the earth.
I am caught up
in the chill
watching my breath
kiss the stars.
First Appeared in Blueline, Vol. 22, 2001. Reprinted in Legal Studies Forum, Vol. 29, No. 1, 2005
It has far less to do
with the casting of the net,
far more to do
with the reeling it in.
The spider wishes
to work in peace weaving
her web, does not desire
to be seen.
For her this is work
and it is not until done,
or as done as she chooses,
that she can sit at its hub.
Spiders are patient,
much like fishermen,
knowing time is not
the enemy but
merely a construct
to mark the space
between now and
from which both
spider and fisherman