Tuesday, October 03, 2017

While Waiting in an Outlying Province

author's note:

Written while reading the anthology The Clouds Should Know Me By Now: Buddhist Poet Monks of China, edited by Red Cloud and Mike O'Connor.  Excellent.


Despite the exquisite craft
of my song and dance
I've yet to receive
a summons from
the distant imperial palace.

As what began as a short wait
became a long wait
I tried to appease my desire
by enjoying the sun
on the stones in the stream

and by telling myself
the rusty nails of my humble hermitage
shine more brightly
than those golden hinges
of the locked palace gates.

In such ways
I managed to muffle
my whimpering disappointment...

until the night
someone cried out to the sky--

in his pain I heard my pain
and as I felt my pain again
I felt his pain more deeply:

I felt life more deeply

so I continued to listen--
I opened myself to the many cries.

In that way
his pain and her pain
and my pain and their pain
soon became our pain.

I've become one of the valley villagers.

Now, I no longer pray for approval
from the imperial palace
because I know
whatever boons or gratuities
I might receive
would not be enough to comfort me--

I would still feel our pain.

So now, I'm working to learn
the song of healing...
the dance.

© 2017, Michael R. Patton
butterfly soul: a poetry book

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