Strong coffee, Thelonious Monk playing solo,
And some poems by W.S. Merwin.
We lost Merwin last week, 91 years old.
He’s been on my mind;
The poetry, his work with the trees,
Restoring a piece of the earth.
And a Buddhist like me.
Keeping his own practice, I’m sure.
I turn off the music and close the book.
I did my morning zazen hours ago,
But another quiet time has come.
I can feel it. Prayer beads
And the Loving Kindness Sutra—
I’ve worked out my own ritual with them.
Praying for W.S. Merwin in the Bardo.
My skeleton is walking under the valley oaks,
Half past October already,
But the leaves still are green and firm.
Autumn in the Sacramento Valley is brief and late.
My bones move along through the shade.
The leaves will turn and fall soon enough;
Perhaps they are whispering among themselves
And I am not allowed to listen in.
On skeletal feet I move into the pines,
Their green lasts all year. There comes a breeze
And from the pines comes a lovely scent.