I never noticed this tree before. Was it always here? Look how huge it is. Even the upper branches as thick around as grown men— strongmen in a circus with thigh-thick arms holding up the canopy. You can’t miss this tree, and yet I think I’ve been missing it for years, driving past it on my way to work without seeing it. Now my car is running quietly over there where I pulled over because this tree was standing here where I never saw it. I see it now though. I see it all now: How I couldn’t see before because of the understory--all those stories I was telling myself were true. All the grasping and the wanting and the dying. But now I think there must have been something dead inside of me if I couldn’t see this tree. It’s so beautiful I want to die. I want to live differently. I want to take this tree back to my car, back into my life, keep it always in view. But of course that’s impossible. That would be as impossible as this tree being here and yet not being here. Which is why I can’t stop staring at it.
Late for the Gratitude Meeting
The guy in front of me in traffic is letting everyone in, waving at the cars like a policeman or a pope— and I really have no patience for all the indulgence and magnanimity at my expense because I’m late for the gratitude meeting, which is only an hour long. And if I miss the first ten minutes of silent meditation I’m going to scream, because it’s my favorite part and because it helps me remember to breathe. And I’m going to throttle this guy if he doesn’t stop deferring to all of the trundling humanity turning left onto Main at this intersection where I’m fuming, not feeling the love, not feeling the gratitude, feeling only resentment and disdain because I have the right of way. Would you rather be right or have peace? Let go, I can hear them say at the gratitude meeting three blocks away, striking the rim of the Tibetan singing bowl, which begins vibrating, and keeps on vibrating, like this steering wheel I can’t stop clenching.
The Good News
The good news is you’re wrong. About everything. The bad news is not what you thought. The good news is not what you thought. That’s the good news. And it’s greater than you know. And it’s greater than you can imagine– you can’t imagine being wrong about everything. That’s why the good news is so unimaginable. For starters, you’re wrong about who you are– about what you are, and where you are, and what you are doing, and what you think is being done to you. I don’t know about you but for some of us that’s very good news. I’m not what I thought. You’re not what I thought. You’re not what you thought either. And neither is your mother. You needn’t figure it out. You needn’t bother. You need do nothing but plead ignorance at every turn, and keep returning, keep opening to the great good news.
©2023 Paul Hostovsky
All rights reserved
…has a recent collection of poems, Mostly (FutureCycle Press, 2021). His poems have won a Pushcart Prize, two Best of the Net Awards, and have been featured on Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, and The Writer’s Almanac. He makes his living in Boston as a sign language interpreter
paulhostovsky.com / Blog Linked