CLOUDY

They promised rain yesterday.
It did not rain yesterday.
The sky grew dark, the clouds
gathered, convening, no doubt,
to consider rain but clearly
they did not reach a consensus.
They say it will rain today,
but we have no reason at all
to believe them, for they are
wispy and darting around
under the sun’s watchful glare.
But the clouds snicker,
for they know fealty to no star
and are merely waiting
for the right moment, when we
venture out assuming that
there will be no rain today.

MU MONKAN

Walking on the road
today, I didn’t see
the Buddha and thus
had no need to kill him.
I did find what I thought
to be a dog’s Buddha nature,
but it proved to be nothing-
ness, so I walked on
through the gate that led
exactly nowhere.
This evening it rained
and I picked up each drop
and when I had the last,
threw them into the sky.

THIS IS HOW WE MOURN

This is how we mourn:
we don’t berate the clouds for gathering,
nor begrudge the rain’s ultimate descent.
Our tears fall to the earth as well,
and there are moments when we need the gray,
moments when the sun would
be an unwelcomed interloper.
This is how we mourn:
we wipe the walls clean of history,
we whitewash them for they, too,
must be a tachrichim* and when done
we add the names, each lettered carefully,
this a plaster scroll
of those we dare not forget
requiring the perfection
they were denied.
This is how we mourn:
by walking out into the sunfilled sky,
having given them the grave
once denied them
freshly dug into
our souls and memory.


*tachrichim is the traditional white linen Jewish burial shroud.

Written following a visit to the Pinkas Synagogue in Prague, where  the 80,000 names of Czech and Moravian Jews who perished under the Nazis were hand-written on the walls of the synagogue.