The melody arose from the most unexpected place. They heard it deep within the woods and even the birds fell silent peering around, searching for its unrevealed source. It carried on for several verses and then, as quickly as it came it was gone, the final note carried off by a spring wind. No one entered, no one left the woods that day and though many searched no instrument was found and the trees of the woods grew silent at the searchers’ approach.
When a leaf leaves the tree it falls precisely where it should. When a flower petal is carried off on a strong wind it comes to rest in the proper place. When you smell the sweet aroma of next summer’s roses use the nose you had before your parents were born.
A reflection on case 32 of Dogen’s Shobogenzo (The True Dharma Eye) Koans
As I stare out the window and watch the snow slowly build on the limbs of the now barren crab apple, painting it with a whiteness that bears heavily, giving the smaller branches a better view of the ground in which their fruit of the summer lies buried.
I am forced to wonder if the tree continues to watch me, if its vision is clouded by the snowy blanket in which it wraps itself this day, and if it does, what must it think of someone so sedentary when it, bearing its winter burden can still dance gently in the morning wind.
She asks innocently, listening to the wind whispering through the bare branches of the oak, “How long have you lived in this poem,” pointing to the page of marked and remarked typescript. He looks at her as if discovering she’d grown another head, peeking out from between her well-polished teeth. “I have no idea what you mean,” he says, “I write the poems— it is up to you to furnish them.” She grimaces, “That’s so wrong,” a third head appeared, grinning, “if you build poems on spec they are sterile little boxes that you foist off on the unwary. Plant all the flowers you want around it, it will still have the antiseptic smell should we dare step into it. That’s just the difference between us,” she adds, “I can see the song of the wind played by the trees, but you, you see only the blankness of the unadorned walls.”
What are words of wisdom from the mouth of the ancient ones. I tell you these are such words. You may accept or reject them as you will. Better still, tear this page from its binding crumple it and cast it to the four winds. Let it be carried off in ten directions.
On the map are neatly etched lines drawn by a fine stylus in a skilled hand separating blue from yellow. This soil is cinnamon there tending to mahogany no line, only a post here, one there and a gun emplacement to deter those who cannot see a line writ on water. In the wind the dust dances across and back dodging the post or caressing it it tastes the rain which falls both here and there. High above the buzzard watches the lizard scurry through the shadow of the sign seeing neither blue nor yellow. Halt, you cry are you of this land or that? I am of neither I am the ocher of the land from which I rose into which I will recede I am the mote of dust that lodges in the corner of your eye and in the corner of his until neither can see the line that is not.
First Publshed in Peacock Journal Anthology, 2017 V. 1 No 2
As I stare out the window and watch the snow slowly build on the limbs of the now barren sugar maple, painting it with a whiteness that bears heavily giving the smaller branches a better view of the ground in which their fruit of the summer lies buried.
I am forced to wonder if the maple continues to watch me, if its vision is clouded by the snowy blanket in which it wraps itself this day, and if it does, what must it think of someone so sedentary when it, bearing its winter burden can still dance gently in the morning wind.
At night, in these mountains you see a million stars, but all you hear is the silence. It bothers you, this silence and you strain to hear, what? There is no one here but you and your breath is swallowed by the night sky. Be still for the wind will rise, and these mountains and these trees herd us into ever smaller spaces as we have been herded for generations, we will gather as we ride among the peaks and down into canyons, listen carefully, for inside the wind we dance around your ears, our songs faint. As the full moon rises slowly over the mountain listen carefully you will look for us but we cannot be seen. You will hear our song dancing across this mesa, one voice to another. You will imagine us coyote, you will feel a chill along your spine and we will fall silent. The stars will smile for they know our stories but to you we are simply, the songs of coyotes. Listen to our voices we will tell you of the land of the grasses once here where our herds grazed, now gone to endless sage. As we lick at your face taste the tears which have watered this now arid soil. Look at the flowers pushing out of the sand and rock, see our faces in the stones about your feet. You may return to your homes and pull your comforters around your chins, hiding from the night’s chill, but we shall remain among these peaks, in these canyons for another ten thousand moons.
First appeared in Erothanatos, Vol. 3, No. 3, July 2019