Because he’s read about it in a book on Zen
and there were lilies-of-the-valley on the table
in a thin white vase, he took the morning
to look at them and only them, to concentrate
all his attention on the lilies-of-the-valley.

Sick of politics, society, and war, he wanted only Zen
answers to the universe. Where but a kitchen table
could be a better place to start? Where but a morning
splashed with paradoxes and absurdities? Concentrate.
There’s nothing in the world but lilies-of-the-valley.

Each bell-blossom on the stem is Zen,
he thought, and the three that fell upon the table,
also Zen—as is this entire morning,
the way the seconds and the minutes concentrate
and separate, like lilies-of-the-valley.

Puns flashed across his mind: Now and Zen,
Zen Commandments. Mice and Zen. Elbows on the table,
head in hands, he scarcely moved all morning,
images distilled, dissolving like a concentrate,
eyes focused solely on the lilies-of-the-valley.

Suspended in its bubble made of Zen
the sun cast flower-shadows on the table.
An old refrigerator hummed away the morning,
as if it, too, had vowed to concentrate
on being and not being lilies-of-the-valley.

Liberate this article!

This article is available to subscribers only. Subscribe now for immediate access to the magazine plus video teachings, films, e-books, and more.

Subscribe Now

Already a subscriber? Log in.