from One Hundred Footsteps
Now I wonder: gods dwell
in the mountains. Travelers walk the paths.
One exhales into the other.
Ah! In the rain, I am not ready yet.
I leave today. Good luck.
The old ones trusted more
than logic when they built Nikko’s wood pagoda,
tall as the oldest cedar,
with only a single anchor pole to hold.
If only I could swing my thoughts with such grace.
It sure is hard work: governing
my Western mind. Faith/Reason. Reason/
Faith. Borges said, “The writer
must not destroy by human reasonings
the faith that art requires of us.”
I am out here with my
pickaxe, my oxcart and its square wheels.
And only here will I
admit: my shoulders swell like fat buckets
and I have twisted my wrists into knots.
A body moves in water
like water moves, while a thought—in air—
marks the surface like a light breeze.
Or it can capsize the sturdiest craft,
the kind made of muscle and bone.
I walk into each day—
a normal way of moving. We all move,
slow down, move again. It’s
a parade! But nothing fills me like
the moment of a thumb and finger. Fruit. Skin.
Today we hear a lot
about connectedness. It’s not
a handshake: together,
then apart. It’s more like one skin woven by
what we don’t see of the shared sun.
The God of Lost Causes
might laugh at the effort and, too,
the effect of these letters
falling from my hand. Funny: how their curves
and squiggles look like lips and wrinkles as they land.
We are likely to be surprised
by those who dwell in the other world,
pushing on the paper screen,
a tender membrane. We miss the impression
of their voices and their hands.
An attitude of nonchalance
might fill the purse with usual distance
but the weight of all those
coins results in empty handedness
right when a bridge needed most in fog dispels.
An aging woman held
all the old songs; everyone’s ancestors
tucked between her breastbone
and her thinning heart. When the wave
almost took her, he carried those songs on his back.