Arising into night the departing sun tangoes away with its cloud, memories soon forgotten. Other dancers take the stage, now a romance, now a war dance, feathers raised in prayer to unseen gods. Night will soon bring its curtain across this stage, the avian cast’s final bows taken the theatre will darken, awaiting another performance, a new script tomorrow, but for this solitary moment of frozen grace, it is we who write the conversation, our lines sung by actors who know only nature’s unrelenting song.
Today they gave a party. Today, so far, no one came. Today, so far and until some come, we will breath easier. Tomorrow they may give another party. We hope that no one comes. The same for Tuesday and Wednesday, although that was supposed to be our party, but we can no longer come, because they may come and we cannot be at any party they are attending. Maybe they won’t come either, and there will be no party at all.
Pause and consider why so many questions require you, you feel, to consult your watch, to call up a calendar, to appoint time. Time has no appointments, time is not an arrow, though we strive always to aim it, to send it flying in our desired direction. Time is a point in space, surrounded by all ten directions, going toward none of them. Ask why this moment is not enough, why you need the next though it does not exist. What are you trying to escape by searching for tomorrow, lingering in yesterday? Yesterday no longer exists, so why do you assume tomorrow does, and what of this moment, which exists only now, and what of the red leaf sitting in mid-air awaiting your awed attention?
A reflection on Case 6 of the Hekiganroku (Blue Cliff Record)
Tomorrow this poem will most assuredly no longer be here, though when during the night it will slip away, never again to be seen, I don’t know or perhaps it will return in a form I would not recognize, recrafted by the hand of an unseen editor.
It may take on a meaning unfamiliar, or translate itself into a tongue that I can neither speak nor read, or perhaps, most dreadedly, assume the shape of prose, accreting words until the embedded thought is bloated and wholly unrecognizable.
Even if I tried to stop it, watched carefully, it would no doubt remind me that poems have a life of their own once cast to paper or pixels, and I am at best only another editor or reader, and it takes kindly on most days to neither.
He awoke this morning, and was surprised to be there, he said, because when you are ninety, and can’t get around at all, you don’t look forward to tomorrow, for it will simply be a repeat of today when nothing will happen. And it is harder still, he says, because he can’t remember much anymore, so it’s hard to say if today is any different than a week ago or a month ago, though they say he was in the hospital then, but he don’t know why he was there. When I stop for a visit the next day his is surprised to be there, he says as though it was a new thought that just came to him in the moment.
You imagine tomorrow will arrive without warning or notice, and even though you are skeptical, you accept the possibility, and if it doesn’t arrive what are the odds you will miss it? If, as expected, it arrives, what the hell, it was supposed to do that so nothing is odd about it, and if not, well you never really expected it to, it’s the blessing of a shortening memory, so you win either way. And so you go on with today, and when not if, tomorrow comes you’ll be there since you will recall your doubt and you’ll assume it is nothing more than the fall of the next domino in the perpetual parade.