A single snowy egret sits on the lowest branch of a long barren tree, where hours from now a thousand birds will arrive for still another evening and night.
He stares at me as I am mindfully vacuuming, watching carefully.
I pause and ask if by chance he is a Buddha and he lifts his long neck and peers around in all directions.
I repeat my question, and he lifts one wing, which I know to be his way of saying, “I, like you, am imbued with Buddha nature, and I with mother nature as well, and if you doubt me ask one of the countless Bodhisattvas who will arrive in hours to study the Dharma well into what will be a wet night.
We bow our heads and utter words not to the cicada speaking through a spring night or the beetle crawling slowly across the leaf searching for the edge. We bid the crow silent, the cat mewling his hunger and lust to crawl under a porch awaiting morning, the child to sleep. The stream flows slowly by, carrying a blade of grass and the early fallen leaf.
Each morning I drag myself from bed, slowly engage my legs, and amble into the bathroom where I peer into the mirror. Each morning I am surprised that I am the same as I was they day before, and yet the mirror by all appearances, has grown another day older. It is, I suppose, the nature of mirrors to age, sadly for them, and as I turn away each morning I wish the mirror a good day, certain that it cannot help but mourn its ever increasing age.
He circles carefully constantly adjusting altitude expanding and contracting his orbits in great increments. His each move is calculated that much is obvious. And you watch him with a deep fascination. You are not the only watcher this day, at this time, others peer up as he plunges downward breaking the surface, his head appearing, thrown back, consuming what ever it is he plucked. While I stand watching the anhinga on the shore of the pond makes it clear he finds the pelican the least graceful of all his distant kin.
Time has no role to play in any of this.
Time isn’t pleased by the prospect,
it prefers to be ever present, ever
escaping, even as it is arriving.
It is quirky that way.
It is constant yet it loves
to give the impression of being variable.
Einstein noted this, and anyone
returning from a long drive is
aware the return is always the shorter trip.
Unless, of course, you suffer
from a bad back, then time
really has the last laugh.
The night fully settles
over northern Minnesota
in the sky grows dark
as the stars make
their reluctant appearance.
Peering through the tall grasses
of the wetlands abutting the road
1000 stars are born
and die in an instant
only to be reborn again
they are replaced by
the beetles that accompany
the slowly rising sun.
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 where once it was only dirt, and we put in our mouths, from time to time if only to drive our mothers crazy. She says if you are going to plant wear gloves, and when she walks away I pull them off 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.