A version of a version of Shantidiva’s version of what the Buddha is said to have said
I, too, tire of moving
my bowels, yet each time
I’m given something new
to consider, a blind man
stumbling upon a pearl
in refuse. This albumen
of eternity prepares us
for deliverance, never
exhausts us, but appears
ever new like a shade
tree, or bridge, or other
common treasure come to
us at a moment of need.
As the sun and moon too
possess this power to move
though they do not try,
milk cannot help becoming
butter, or kindness love
when churned in the right
vessel. This recognition,
in its turn a joyous feat,
surprises me all over
each time my body makes it.
from the Theragatha
Blackness, that subtracted sum,
the benighted light of our good
friend, obscures instructions
he left and directions left to go.
One is gone, and one remains
but the best friend is a body
awakened to its bliss, well-beyond
but of the mind and emptiness.
I let the old ones pass away; I saw
them going. The new has nothing
to protect. As a swan withdraws
to nest, so I’m not asked to stay.
It’s a woman’s perspective, I know—
but who could admire the horses
or the sons riding off to war
or the poets who immortalize them—
if desire hadn’t conjured us first?
Plenty more Troys await burning
and plenty of Helens, too,
praise the gods; there’s Anactoria,
who binds me to her memory
by how comely my yearning feels.
I say it’s okay to prefer her
white thighs to battle, to seize
in her image justification for death—
the soldiers and I sure as hell do.