We sat in the cramped kitchen huddled around the stove the open oven door spreading a faint warmth that barely slid through the winter chill. The bare bulb in the ceiling strained and flickered fighting to hold as the generators were shut down, and darkness enveloped our small world. The sky was lit by the flares and the odor of exploding shells seeped through the towel sealed windows covered in the tattered bedsheets too thin to afford warmth. Ibrahim had been gone two weeks sneaking out of the city to join his brothers in Gorazde or Tuzla, or wherever it was that they were struggling to save what little was left. We huddled under the small table and dreamed of the taste of fresh bread, or even pork. In the morning he would run among the craters in the streets in search of the convoy and the handouts, which we would raven as the sun set over our war torn hell.
First published in Legal Studies Forum, Vol. XXX, No. 1 & 2, 2006
In this moment we, the two of us, are here in this precise place and there are an infinite number of places we might be. But we want to be here, just here, nowhere else. We are aging, but in this moment we are exactly the right age and to be younger or older would do nothing for us. When I curl against you as the morning light struggles to pierce the pulled blinds and stroke your arm my fingers are in the only place my fingers want to be. Here, now, together.
Spring has arrived, however begrudgingly, and the young woman pushes the older woman’s wheelchair along the paths of the great park. Neither speaks, but each knows this could be the last time they do this. That shared knowledge paints each flower in a more vibrant hue, each fallen petal is quickly but individually mourned for, its beauty draining back into the soil. The older woman struggles hard to fully capture each view for she knows that it is possible that it will have to last her an eternity.
First Published in Beautiful in the Eye of the Beholder, Sweetycat Press, 2022
It is there waiting, no doubt another trap, simple initially seeming pure but harboring a malevolence that will soon consume you, leave you broken, so considering the pen as a weapon, to lay waste to it, or for seppuku, both thoughts will no doubt come to mind.
It has always been like this, always will, different if you chose the digital path, but only a difference in implement, the struggle, the loss, the outcome very much the same, so consistent.
Still you take up pen, stare deeply at your adversary, swear it will not defeat you this time, battle on valiantly, but finally, and yet again, painfully concede to the omnipotent abyss that today as yesterday is the pure untouched page.
In the middle of the day you can not see because the sun is too bright and may blind you. At midnight you stumble searching for light for you are blind in the darkness. What is it you struggle so hard to see?
A reflection on case 66 of the Shobogenzo (Dogen’s True Dharma Eye)
Roshi left last week sitting in the garden of the Zen Center, there then not there, as though he let go his 91 year grasp knowing somehow, it was the right moment. He left so quietly those around him did not hear him depart. Half a lifetime ago I sat at his feet, unable to frame the simplest of questions. Watching my struggle, he smiled, gently touched my shoulder, whispered “the only guarantee we get with life is death – did you fear your birth?” Standing under the gray sky letting go of the flower
it falls on your coffin, Roshi, you are sensei yet again.
The youngest child, her mind uncluttered, can answer any question unburdened by words, and her answers can only rebound across the universe. If you stop struggling to hear her, let the silence surround you both, you cannot escape the answers.
A reflection on case 84 of the Shobogenzo (True Dharma Eye)