Sunday, November 29, 2020

hidden behind the leaves


the slender fingers stroking the abbot's shiny bald pate meant indecision, anxiety, perhaps frustration, for master ko, though gone, continued to pester the man's thoughts, a letter from that woman pinched between thumb and forefinger, his disciple kneeling just to his right, says, send it on? but he isn't there

a silence
finally, a sigh, no matter, says the abbot; send it on
but ...
it is where he should be, so, too, this letter
no doubt like roshi he has dismayed of the world of men and gone off through the western gate ...
reflecting, frowning, but he cannot walk on water can he, this western gate is ...
metaphor, sir, metaphor; have you not read lao tzu?
so many sutras, I ... so much to untangle
no matter
was he so disillusioned then?
was he ...
surely he wouldn't ...
no, no, not that
then he is somewhere
yes, somewhere
with his dismay
should we not look for him?
but ...
if you wish to find this fellow, look for him in a wine shop or brothel, caustically said yet pleased with the allusion
surely you cannot suggest that ...
a muted gong, sudden rumble of feet in a distant hall brought a stroke of his head, looking up, is it that time already, he says
ah, no text prepared
averting his eyes, the disciple suggests something on lao tzu and dismay: might that not do?
a silence, a sigh, finally: yes, that might do ... such foolishness
foolishness, master?
folly, standing
the disciple pulls the hem of his robe aside aside and rises, stepping back, deferential
folly, says the abbot again, softly, a sad shake of the head ... lao dan may have left the warring states behind, but to no avail, I say, no avail, for anywhere you go, there you are

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