WHO LOOKS FOR THE SEA BY FOLLOWING ITS WAVES?
Who looks for the sea by following its waves?
Or the sky by following the flights of birds?
Or their mind with their mind?
Who looks for seeing with their eyes?
Dogen Zenji: The place is here. The path leads everywhere.
And that should be the inexhaustible end of it. Freedom.
And all along the river that means
whatever I want it to, my unfinished solitude.
This discrete spiritual protocol between myself and the stars
that don’t know how many times they’ve saved my life
by simply being there to gaze upon, as if in some way
they were so much more cleansing than water
and I could bathe in them to wash off the dust of the world
on any clear night, or, sometimes when you cry
it’s the light that pours out, not your tears.
Some memories enter a coma and stay there,
giving you the impression that the past is fixed,
but I know the past is as creatively ongoing as now
and what was isn’t the fossilized substance of what is,
by the way it can still sting, bite, caress and grow
into the available dimension of the future,
by how few times I’ve come here in joy
that wasn’t mentored by some diffuse sorrow
that lingered over the lake like a wraith of the drifting mist
that had drowned in it barely an afterlife or two ago.
Always in the background of my heart I feel
this compassionate sadness like the cosmic hiss of creation,
and o how the watersheds of understanding long to be fountains
and exfoliate into flowing diamonds that simply
celebrate the scintillance, without embracing everything
in the mournful tenderness of this space it shares with them
as if in everything I’m aware of, I were always
mourning the passage of flowers. And if not that,
the heretical indignation born of what it appears
we must suffer to be here, without knowing why,
though I struggle most times to suppress that
to make sure the door stays open to any strays
that might wander in like wayward oversights of creative clarity.
There’s a sophomoric debate still going on
about whether I’m getting older or not, but alone,
I can feel the weight of this seasoned bell within me
and I ask myself is this the heaviness of the ripening pear
as it bends the branch as well as the light toward earth?
Is that why time approaches me like the night coming on
sweetened with stars, in this second innocence of wonder
before I fall again? Is pain the only intermediary
between our death and our birth and detachment and separation
the only kind of truce or bridge or oxymoron
that could reconcile them even remotely?
So often when I can’t see the radiance of the world
I think it’s because my eyes are unclean,
that it’s my error of perception if the arrow misses the mark,
not any inherent injustice in the way things are,
because who am I to say how it should all be experienced
when I could talk forever without ever knowing
what a thought, an emotion, or a word truly is,
let alone life with all its conditioned chaos
and dissonant harmonies? All these travelling companions
on the same road I am, trying to figure out
whether they’re refugees on the run,
or pilgrims without a shrine. And I’m modestly
exalted by my humility when I think like this
until I remember how easy it is to go blind
looking into any source of illumination
watching two serpents copulating like wavelengths
and helical chromosomes. And I turn away
to stay true to the face in the mirror that isn’t mine.
I plunge into a black hole, a rite of passage,
and when I come out the other end, even my shadows shine.