LOST, AGAIN

It would help, she said,
if you would stop thinking
of yourself as Sisyphus
and all of life as the rock,
you might actually, one day,
begin to enjoy what you do.

It would help, he said,
if I could be like
a great blue heron,
grow wings and take
to a summer sky leaving
all of this behind me,
going wherever I wish.

Perhaps, she replied, it
is better that you see
yourself as Sisyphus, for
everyone knows that you
have no sense of direction.

DISCOVERY

In a small storefront, in an older neighborhood of the city, I found it.  Sepia coated with a fine sheen of dust and neglect, it lay on the table amid a stack of others, as though a leaf of phyllo in a poorly made stack fresh from the oven.  I knew it as I looked at it, touched it gently, that it had once held a magic incantation, that if you allowed it, could take you on a static journey where stillness was infinite.  I read it though it was wordless, but clear, it was a map to the country of dreams.  Not mine, I knew. Mine had the mundaneness of Chinese menu ordering, column A, column B, or sorting socks still hot from the dryer.  I saw in it possibilities, where ties and restraints could have no meaning, where crawling and flying were coequal skills and walking was so evolutionarily regressive.  I thought of purchasing it.  The price was certainly reasonable.  I thought of framing it with archival mats, and encasing it in museum glass, hanging it on a wall, or placing it behind the mattress where it might seep through like a ferryman plying the river of night, never quite touching opposing shores.  I left it in the store that day.  I haven’t gone back to see if its patina has grown.  For me it could only be an artifact.  A map is of so little use, if you have no destination.

YAKUSAN’S LAKE 鐵笛倒吹 八十八


When you travel from home
and are asked if the lake
on the shore of which you live
is now full, what
can you say.
Will you speak of the rains
that soaked your fields
and what of the herd
of water buffalo
come to graze
since you have left.

The eye sees only now,
the mind struggles
to see history
and the wise man
sees nothing.


A reflection on Case 88 of the Iron Flute (Tetteki Tōsui)

SHISHUANG’S THIS SIDE AND THAT SIDE

You like being here, but
you suspect you would like being there
as well, if not more than being here.
This puzzles you, for you fear
leaving here to go there, in case
when you arrive there you don’t like
being there and would rather be here.
You should sit and ponder which
is better for you, here or there,
even though you cannot be certain
just what is there, or what
there will be here if you go there.
But if you do go there, there will
then be here, and here will then be there.
Now consider why must here and there
be different, since there contains here,
and here is most all of there.
This question is a naked singularity
and deep within it lies
everywhere you ought to be.


A reflection on Case 89 of the Shobogenzo

RIDE

There is a man standing at a bus stop. He waits at this bus stop each day, regardless of the weather. He is waiting patiently for a bus that will not come, the bus line was discontinued many months ago. He has a cast on his leg, but it doesn’t seem to bother him. It is old looking and you suspect the break is healed, but he hasn’t gotten around to having the cast cut off. I consider for a moment at least stopping and offering him a ride. I know he will decline.  He knows the bus will not come, but he is going nowhere, and here is where you catch the bus going there.