Body, Life, Peace, Poetry from The Well, Poetry I like

Perfect Harmony

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.

XX

I’m used to living in some hidden, shaded,

mountain place,

but once in a while I walk straight into the

Kuo-Ch’ing Temple,

and sometimes I pay a call on old Feng Kan,

or go to see that honorable sir, Shih Te, the

foundling.

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

flowing.

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One thought on “Perfect Harmony

  1. Lovely. Immanuel Kant used a term ‘unsocial sociability’ which I have always thought describes this discomfort really well. We are driven in both ways at once … Good to be able to get the respite you describe.

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