Rust and fallen snow
rest upon cracks and fissures
revealed by soft light,
confirmation of failure
weathered by time’s measured grace.
Dear ones lie still,
near and peaceful,
yet quiet has settled too deeply,
darkness persistent, final —
can these shallow breaths
be the full completion of Dogen;
truly buddha nature;
Not waiting for dark,
when merging is effortless,
clouds, hills, and fields reach across
quiet gaps and outstretched space.
(A Tanka poem. Photograph from a New England late afternoon, 8 December 2012)
slate clouds push down as
snow merges with darkness —
children’s play echoes.
The lineage scroll from Jukai rests,
tucked in the flickering shadow,
behind the incense bowl
and grandmother’s Buddha —
cold rattles the window and hardens the floor.
My sons might be ignoring me
across the space of the kitchen and family room.
In the minutes that just passed,
they had shared only glaring complaints
and intrusions into coveted space
in the struggle to get teeth brushed
and clothes exchanged for pajamas.
Now they have settled next to each other,
one reclining deep into the corner of the couch,
slowly turning a page,
and pulling on a fingernail with his teeth;
the other kneeling up to the cushion,
working the pieces of a wooden box puzzle,
alternatively holding his breath and exhaling with concentration.
I’ve called them to bed
but can’t repeat myself.
The silence brushes my skin
as I stand absorbed and unmoving.