As a child I was quite adept
folding sheets of newspaper
into paper hats and paper boats.
The boats immediately took on water,
and sank like the sodden masses
I made them to be, but I could wear
the hats for hours, until my mother
had to scrub my forehead
to get off the printer’s ink.
You might think I would consider
becoming a reporter or journalist
given my penchant for newsprint,
but I instead became a Buddhist
because I do love folding things
over and over and over again
kirigami requires the use
of scissors, which my mother prohibited.
The water pours endlessly, relentlessly
over the lip, cascading into the gorge
the mist rising, engulfing the rim of the falls,
swallowing whole the small island,
that will be eaten by the river over the next centuries.
We sit in the comfort of our room, watching
as if this was a movie, the water
in a slow-motion counterpoint to the mist.
None of the tour boats circle the gorge,
for in Niagara, even the goddess of tourism
must begrudgingly give herself over to winter.
Walking on ice is easy, although
you must be careful not to slip
for the fall can be damaging, but
walking on water is impossible
unless you are not you, and he
has returned in your body
which we all find highly unlikely,
although the difference between
you is a simple state of matter.
The question, then, is do you
see any real difference
between the two of you
and if not, he may well smile
as you together disappear
into a thick cloud of steam.
Each morning she looks at the small window in her bedroom, just after the sun has broken the horizon and the lake is set ablaze. Each morning she sees the small boat, its oars resting on the gunwale, dark against the orange water. She never asks how the boat got there, why it stays there, seemingly unmoving. Tomorrow she will awaken and the boat will be gone. She will mourn its absence. Or tomorrow she will not awaken and the boat will be there, and will mourn her absence.
It is that magical
hour of the day
when the sun sets
the pond’s surface ablaze.
The fountain in the middle
shoots drops of liquid fire
into to sky, only
to watch them return
to their now fiery home.
This magic only lasts
a few moments before
the water returns
to its natural state,
and for yet another day,
extinguishes the sun.
It is incredibly difficult
to be a truly holy man, it isn’t
enough to inspire peace
with your words and presence,
you had better walk on water,
turn water into wine, heal
with the touch of a single finger.
You can’t simply stand up
for justice at the risk
of your own life and limb,
you have to wander around
a desert, carry tablets
down the side of a mountain.
You cannot be compassion,
you have to forsake everything
and be always available
for questions that have no answers.
It’s a real problem, since we
all seek to be holy, but no one
wants to do the hard work of it.
We arose from water,
crawled forth and inhabited the land
and claimed dominion
and the land appeared
to cede itself to us,
and caring even less.
We return to the water
feel its pull
but immerse ourselves
only partially, willing
to risk only half drowning,
the land and air
usually silent, knowingly
laugh for they know
that a fish
out of water
in a sea of air.