Poem for Feb 10

Japa Report

Sign with pointed arrow
for the hikers who pass here.
The light on in the
rich people’s estate but
they never come here to enjoy it.

The brown snail on the road.
I didn’t have time to stop for him
although he was beautiful
sticking out of his shell home,
his long, slimy head with antennae.
Hello—good-bye. I walked fast over
him, but didn’t step on him.

My red beads. I hope
to hold on to them my whole life,
or what’s left of it. The beads ought
to be able to outlast me.
I can patch them if one
cracks open like an autumn chestnut.

Chant, chant. I use my head but
don’t know how to chant in the heart.
Maybe I’m too orthodox and have to learn.
I think I’m far out, but actually
I’m a timid and conservative soul
and don’t know
what it takes to love.

I saw no one at all on the walk,
although a bird feared my approach.
Walked into the tent of
tree forest, leaving no shadow.
I counted and counted—
9, 10, 11, and 12—my rounds.
The hard dirt.

(_Gentle Power_)