Without warning the familiar pull
to speak and smile in perfect harmony
lends me the grace to dip my tongue
into the silvery pool of conversational talk.
It ends the same. Two voices deliver
the harvest of their minds, thoughts unraveling,
into a heap. The conspicuous
absence of beginning and end. I wish
to bend and twist with other branches,
but out I stick, taut, serious, too much my own.
Peace comes when that pull to combine with
the others passes – I am again centered
between ground and sky, calm and contained
inside these four quiet walls.
This was inspired by the poem reproduced below from Cold Mountain Poems, the Zen Poems of Han Shan, Shih Te, and Wang Fan-Chih. The bitter taste of an unfulfilling interaction is familiar.
I’m used to living in some hidden, shaded,
but once in a while I walk straight into the
and sometimes I pay a call on old Feng Kan,
or go to see that honorable sir, Shih Te, the
But then I come home, alone, to my cold cliff.
No one’s talk makes perfect harmony with mine.
I search a stream that has no source.
The spring dried up, but the stream water’s still