An invisible bird flies over,

but casts a quick shadow.


What is the body?  That shadow of a shadow

of your love, that somehow contains

the entire universe.


A man sleeps heavily, though something blazes in him like the sun,

like a magnificent fringe sewn up under the hem.


He turns under the covers.

Any image is a lie:


     A clear red stone tastes sweet.


     You kiss a beautiful mouth, and a key

     turns in the lock of your fear.


     A spoken sentence sharpens to a fine edge.


     A mother dove looks for her nest,

     asking where, ku?  Where, ku?


Where the lion lies down.

Where any man or woman goes to cry.

Where the sick go when they hope to get well.


Where a wind lifts that helps with winnowing,

and, the same moment, sends a ship on its way.


Where anyone says Only God Is Real.

Ya Hu!  Where beyond where.


A bright weaver’s shuttle flashes back and forth,

east-west, Where-are-we?  Ma ku?  Maku.

like the sun saying Where are we?

as it weaves with the asking.


The Friend comes into my body

looking for the center, unable

to find it, draws a blade,

strikes anywhere.


There is a light seed grain inside.

You fill it with yourself, or it dies.


I’m caught in this curling energy!  Your hair!

Whoever’s calm and sensible is insane!


Do you think I know what I’m doing?

That for one breath or half-breath I belong to myself?

As much as a pen knows what it’s writing,

or the ball can guess where it’s going next.



(translated by Coleman Barks, et alia)


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