Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Moving Desire

author’s note:

“We sit together, the mountain and me,
 until only the mountain remains.”
         -- Li Po (trans. Sam Hamill)

Yes, I've had moments such as the one described by Li Po.  I cherish such moments.

But my more typical mode is the one described below.


Stubbornly determined
to become a better being--

to be an open doorway--
to break my door open--

to be stub grass
willing to surrender
everything but my roots
in order to feed the needs
of blessed sheep...

so I sit down by the waterfall
--up near the clouds--
to try to meditate my way
to such a perfected state

when a different impulse
propels me to jump

then to swim like a snake
after I come up--

an impulse that plunges me
into deep mine pits

so I can crawl out
by my bruised finger-

That pulls me to climb
a rope that I doubt.

That pummels me to sing
through a throat
stuffed with ice--

so as to canonize my impediments.

Though I'm still impelled toward quiet
this more forceful impulse tells me
I'm not fit for the contemplative life--

this louder hunger apparently
is my better way
to become a better being

and honestly,
I wouldn't trade this joy
of learning the hard rules
of wheels and pulleys,
of sweating long hours
fitting together pipe
to bring water
to fields where I fight
boll weevils and blight.

In the process
the door slowly opens,
in the process
I sacrifice for what few sheep
I can now afford to feed.

© 2010, Michael R. Patton
audacious audio

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