Nan Lian Garden
Year’s end. Musicians perform in the open
and the flutist’s notes exile us momentarily
to the land of the dispossessed.
Still green leaves stir in the breeze,
an elder fusses with his high tech camera.
Foreign maids on holiday pose, spreading
their arms like swans. The Gazebo
of Perfection reflects on the pond,
goldenrod in the shadow’s folds.
Lotus bursts out too, can a little mud diminish it?
On the height sits Shan Mon, the mountain gate,
where the air is chilly but peace awaits,
if only our hearts were purer.
But longing, nemeses of peace, keeps
us at the threshold.
Longing, can we starve it like a beast
till it is no more? The trouble is,
there is no duress in Buddhist poetry,
only sounds of the four winds, snowbirds,
silence of the unclasped hands.
I join the visitors, and start snapping pictures.
The Elephant in the Room
You can sit in the gray all day
and not notice—
he’s claimed a permanent spot.