Was in an editorial meeting, and they were talking about tenses. Someone said, same as the timeframe of disappointment, and just like that I was paying attention. But not here—all of a sudden I was rifling through the rolodex in my head: this day, that day.
Was listening to Nina Simone, nodding my head, bare feet tapping lightly on the floor. Just in time, she croons. I was lost, the losing dice were tossed. I have been here in this moment several times—at the Village Gate in my mind, in the living room of someone I used to love, between rows and rows of books in the library, in transit, in bed. This day, that day.
Was a quiet week mostly. I mean, the demons in my head. I mean, I know some things have shifted—whether it’s the ground or the odds, I’ve yet to find out. But I’ll take what I can get: this day, that day.
Zazen on Ching-t’ing Mountain
Translated by Sam Hamill
The birds have vanished down the sky.
Now the last cloud drains away.
We sit together, the mountain and me,
until only the mountain remains.
Over coffee the other night, I sighed and mentioned that I miss having my life guided by zen. J was quite surprised to hear that. I guess I knew you after your zen period, she said. Which made me a little sad. I do miss going slowly through the days. After zen — what does that even imply? That I’m manic and a mess, that’s what. It also meant I wasn’t strong enough to sustain what I already had, especially as everything grew more hectic and stressed. I should go back to practicing it again. Oh, the shoulds of our lives.
Here. Look at what a beauty this is —
“Nothing in the cry…”
Translated by Sam Hamill
Nothing in the cry
of cicadas suggests they
are about to die
I keep having these dreams where I am asleep underwater. I’ve never known such peace. It calls to me so much, to make it happen. It scares me a little.
What the Water Knows
What the mouth sings, the soul must learn to forgive.
A rat’s as moral as a monk in the eyes of the real world.
Still, the heart is a river
pouring from itself, a river that cannot be crossed.
It opens on a bay
and turns back upon itself as the tide comes in,
it carries the cry of the loon and the salts
of the unutterably human.
A distant eagle enters the mouth of a river
salmon no longer run and his wide wings glide
upstream until he disappears
into the nothing from which he came. Only the thought remains.
Lacking the eagle’s cunning or the wisdom of the sparrow,
where shall I turn, drowning in sorrow?
Who will know what the trees know, the spidery patience
of young maple or what the willows confess?
Let me be water. The heart pours out in waves.
Listen to what the water says.
Wind, be a friend.
There’s nothing I couldn’t forgive.