Posts Tagged ‘awakening’


There is no need for temples … Our own brain, our own heart is our temple.
—H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama

Today the temple went to the post office.
Of course it wore its mask. There,
it met several other temples, also masked,
some of them in a hurry as temples sometimes are.
The temples joked with each other
about haircuts and lost keys and ripped old shirts.
All day—while working on the computer,
while making macaroni and cheese,
while taking out the cat litter and feeding the fish—
the temple managed to forget its own temple-ness
and the temple-ness of others
until finally, while weeding milk thistle in the garden,
a bell did not ring and a clarity came—
a brief brush with infinity that lasted a millionth of a second,
and there between the beets and the sunflowers,
was a moment when the temple was temple.
How quickly a thought comes in. Even now the temple
wrestles with its own metaphor, tries to discern its mystery
by disassembling itself into piles of knowable parts—
bricks of meaning, tiles of purpose—that, huh,
somehow, when dissected, don’t resemble a temple at all.

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The kingfisher wakes me

with its strident rattle,

thrilling me out of sleep.

It’s been months since

I’ve seen one, and now

on this snowy morning

one clatters and chatters

me into spring.


The heart leaps up,

surprised it doesn’t

have wings. I’m here,

it beats, its own tuneless call.

Like the kingfisher, it’s ready

to dive into the deep.

I’m here, it calls again

from inner branches.


It need not be beautiful,

the song that reminds us

who we are—it calls to us

in its own undecipherable way

until one day when we hear it,

we can’t help but hear

our own name.


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One Urgency



waking to the strangled song

of geese, they insist

now is no time to be asleep

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Across the yard, below

the cliffs, and just beneath the evening’s

drift toward darkening, above

the river, through the trees,

there is, if you are lucky,

a slender moment charmed

by chance when, if you look up,

the great blue heron

will angle past on slanting wing

and make you question



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Today it was the puddle

that woke up my heart,

the way it received the sky


and remade it in smeary mirrors

of grays beneath my feet.

How at first, I tried so hard to avoid it,


and then, once my feet were wet,

I could see it only as a way to play,

an invitation for joy. To splash


in the clouds. To splash for the pleasure

of splashing. To splash until

I could no longer recognize her, that part


of me who longed to stay safe, stay dry.

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Digging there in the dirt

with small seeds

in your hands

you hear the wind

high in the cottonwoods,

you hear the silence

sown inside the wind,

and the quieter

you are, you hear

perhaps, within you

a call like the geese

that aren’t flying

overhead, a startling

call, an almost

strangled sound

that, if you heard it,

might almost

wake you up.

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I like my body in the mornings
when the light has not yet stolen the room,
and when you, in darkness, turn your length
toward my length and bend your body
to match the curve of my spine.

I like the warmth our bodies find,
I like your legs bowed into mine,
your feet like a tangle of roots about my feet.

I like my neck when it’s touched by your breath,
and I like my waist when your hand rests there.
And my belly, I like how soft it is, like sweet dough rising.

So tender, this drowsy, dreamy, yielding state
when we are more flesh than name, more limb than thought,
more breath than what we know.

And the darkness holds us quietly,
your body, my body, oh how we linger,
indulgent, our boundaries blurred,
while all around us, even inside us,
the world with its edges and certainties
begins to dawn.

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Spring comes to the sidewalk
in the longer days of March.

The sun warms the slab, and beneath
it the seeds of old weeds start to stir.

They are tiny. And who knows how,
but in the dark, they begin to grow

and put down roots and,
though it seems unlikely,

begin to push through the concrete itself.
First a hairline crack. This fissure is somehow

sufficient to provide light and water enough.
Soon there are tendrils, then whole leaves,

then the yellow blooms of new weeds.
What is it in us that knows to push?

I, too, have wintered in a dark, thick cast, one
of my own making. Cramped and dormant,

I had stopped believing in hope.
But it was not hope that cracked the shell.

Nor was it anything that I did.
It was life’s longing for itself.

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with thanks to Rita Robinson

Even considering
the sputtering sky

and the caving between
my shoulder blades
where my heart
should fill the body’s cage,

despite the lack
of song today

and regardless
of angry voices
that scuffle
and riddle
the gutters outside,

even then I read
in a letter her closing words,
so much love here
right now, she says,
for you, for us,
and slowly,

as if just awakening
in a foreign country
in a too short bed
surrounded by
unfamiliar sounds
and slants of shadow
and assaulted with
exotic scents,

I hint by hint
come to
recognize myself,
and know
with irrational
and utter certainty
she’s right.

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Just As It Is

Until you can see, literally, that everybody is the Buddha, then you are not seeing things the way they are.
—Adyashanti, Emptiness Dancing

First I quarter, then core them,
the red-skinned pears, then slice them
into slender white wings to dry. The fruit

in the box is misshapen, lumpy and mottled,
brown scarred in spots, some shriveling.
But ripeness has brought a warm tide of gold

to their skin, and in my hands, beside the knife,
it is easy to find them beautiful. I am thinking
about how today I heard a teacher of mine

suggest that everyone, everyone is a Buddha,
and I wonder if he could also mean me.
Could I unknow myself to the point where

I, too, am Buddha? It is easier, somehow,
to believe in everyone else. The scent of
autumn weaves through the kitchen air

as the pear sugars concentrate on the racks.
And Herbie Hancock undoes the scales
on the stereo, while Joni Mitchell sings

of … I do not know what, but I feel I would
follow her voice anywhere she would sing me.
Surely Joni Mitchell is a Buddha, and surely

Herbie Hancock, too. I can tell by the way
they loosen the notes from grasp of where
I expect they will go. I try to harmonize, but

they elude me. It is late. Or rather,
it is early morning and it is easier now—
perhaps from exhaustion—to laugh at myself,

to belt out loud and off key and make up words
to unfamiliar songs. It is not embarrassment I feel,
though I’ve often been embarrassed before—rather

I wear a sense that the pieces don’t quite fit together,
that the world is unsettled and breaking apart,
and that I am a part of the mess. But I don’t

feel a need to fix it, nor myself, I suppose,
surely not now when my hands are sticky with pear juice,
slicing the white flesh pound after beautiful, mottled pound.

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