RINZAI PLANTS A PINE 鐵笛倒吹 十八

If you have a seed
in your pocket
what will you do with it?
Even a small seed
planted carefully
in the middle of a forest
may take hold and grow.

Tamp the soil with your toe
three time, three times again
secure in knowing
this tree will never
provide you shade.


A reflection on Case 18 of the Iron Flute Koans

DRAPERY

It was draped over the fence,
a bridge for squirrels who
would otherwise would go through the chain.
There’s a sadness to its needles, many
burying themselves in the accumulated snow,
cast off by the great Spruce as extraneous,
an old coneless branch, “that is the reason”
the trunk whispers in the wind
“why I am rid of it, why now
you are free to take up lopping shears
and make of it what you will
or just haul it to the curb, it is of no matter to me.”
There is a cynicism in the old tree’s voice,
as if saying, “Look, I was here before you, long
before any of this,” knowing it will go unchallenged.
But I remind it of the fate of the Austrian Pine
that one stood two dozen yards away
and the Spruce sheds another cone
and lapses into silence.

HAWKING AUTUMN

 

The hawks have been circling
more frequently of late,
but in the early autumn laziness
of merely riding the breezes
that seem to pick up in the mornings,
before the midday sun bids them
be calm so it can make its transit.
By afternoon, they tend to roost
high up in the giant pines, peering
down as the flow of people flows
along the paths seeking to grasp
the fading warmth and last blooms
for a few moments longer, and
as evening approaches the hawks
take flight again, knowing the moon
can move the tides, but is powerless
to change the winds which blow
when and where their sky mother chooses.