You could feel the tears
embedded in the email
“We didn’t know
she had only three years.”
She is 84 and failing
in so many small ways
that the prognosis
comes with great pain,
but barely shock
save for its delivery.
So we cherish
the remaining days
and cast the estimate aside.
He is looking for words. There are no words. He feels he needs to say something. There are no words. He feels deep pain. There are no words for his deep pain. Many are speaking. There are no words to speak. Everyone is looking for words. There are no words. Everyone wants to say something. There are no words to say. Everyone fears the silence. There are no words in silence. He accepts the silence. He stops looking for words.
He says, “I’ve run out of cheeks,
my own family has used up so many
and there are so few left,
I save them to have one to turn
when someone sincerely and truly atones.”
“I suppose,” she says, “there is
some logic to that.”
“Not at all,” he replies,
“for if someone truly atones,
if the apology is honest and heartfelt
there is no need for a cheek to turn,
the wrong is righted, the wound healed.”
She laughs in agreement, adding,
“You only turn a cheek when
you expect another wound,
and a wise man once said
if they keep hitting you,
get out of the ring.”
The sweep of the second hand,
the minute hand is constant, each
moment as long as the last, none
longer, none shorter and yet I know
that Einstein was right in noting that
things unpleasant take forever, while
all that is joyful passes quickly,
even when the elapsed time is the same.
What Albert didn’t say is that
the unpleasant leads us to look
for the future, keeping us
locked out of the present moment.
That which is pleasant keeps us present
and the future seems to come
too quickly, the pleasure slipping away.
It is, in the end, merely perception
and I prefer to remain in the present
for it is all that I have, and
all that I choose to make it.
Life is joy and pain,
two sides, one coin –
death is caused by birth –
stop and consider this.
Look into the face
of the evening sun,
will it retreat
from your eyes
or linger in memory?
Look into the face
of the full midnight moon,
does she have
the sun’s face
only until morning?
A reflection on Case 3 of the Blue Cliff Record (碧巌録)