Above taxi queues, red velvet
loops and black CB’s—The Metropolitan:
second floor, Manhattan, bamboo and pooled
trickling, tiered eaves of a Ming
pagoda, home to winged moonlight
and Suzhou scholars lifted by heaven’s
blue arms, as when breeze and constellation
rock us to summer sleep—calling us
to dream of gardens and streams,
pain and peace though we are

Western men: Compete!
Achieve! Consume! Turn away
from Shiva’s fiery dance,
His serpent hair, His palm
that says: Do not be afraid.
Turn away from Buddha folded
in our sun-warmed core,
whispering: Detach.

Facades of camphor
and gingko welcome
us from centuries spent
answering a shrill, misguided bell.
Listen: to the drip of melting ice,
the bullfrog at water’s edge,
crickets in the hot night,
the lowing of mottled cows,
the swish of maple leaves,
the silence of the stones.
Listen to your own ancient
drum, thumping its way
towards infinity.

© Matt Pasca

excerpt from A Thousand Doors (J.B. Stillwater) and published here with the permission of the poet

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