Cardboard Box

I’m finally looking into the cardboard box
I brought home from my mother’s house late last month;

The clementines she had insisted I take
and perched on top have long since been eaten;
it’s been otherwise untouched
sitting in the corner of the yellow room.

Two pairs of my infant pajamas–
The yellow, corduroy pair with the embroidered lion,
the faded white and green night dress.
She had remarked on the drawstring she had sewn into the bottom–
how it was still there–
the fold-over sleeves to keep me from scratching myself
as I slept in my crib.

My white shoes, too, laces gone,
but still with their impossibly stiff bottom;
my grandmother’s blue-and-white Canton ware,
wrapped in the 1975 Daily News of Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Just before I left,
we had sat on the basement couch flipping through
faded Kodak prints, square with rounded corners,
taken before we moved into the house on the hill.

We paused at one where I wore that night dress,
my sister and I standing
in the deep darkness of an evening east window.
There were others, too, from that forty-years-ago,
and she told me again about each one.

We had such fun, she said,
such fun.

Before the Snow Arrives

A poem hasn’t completed me
since last season;

I bring an occasional one
to the finish –
so I don’t forget
how many lines are in a stanza,
or to remind myself
the weight of my pencil.

I have to get the leaves moved;

the ones scattered
withered
across the lawn

I have to get them moved
before the snow arrives.

Touching the Heart Mind

I finished work early today,
walked out of the office
I built in my barn
into a cool afternoon.

I took the clippers from the
upstairs linen closet and
cut my hair with the shortest blade.

There were still a few errands to run
before I came to sit here in our kitchen,
distracted by house sounds and
typing out a home-leaving poem
for sesshin,

where I’ll sit with the sangha,
alone together
under autumn skies.

Untitled

birthdays, too,
hold misunderstood questions
alongside bright smile greetings.

at the end of the day,
I stayed late at the Temple
to water Roshi’s flowers.

oceans of bright clouds,
oceans of solemn clouds.

The final couplet comes from the words of Dogen in our school’s translation of the Ninth Precept.