Pocket of Fog

In the next door yard,
a pocket of fog like a small herd of bison
swallows azaleas, koi pond, the red and gold koi.

To be fully happy must mean not knowing you are.

The fog grazes here, then there,
all morning browsing the shallows,
leaving no footprints between my fate and
    the mountain’s.

Happiness Is Harder

To read a book of poetry
from back to front,
there is the cure for certain kinds of sadness.

A person has only to choose.
What doesn’t matter; just that—

This coffee. That dress.
“Here is the time I would like to arrive.”
“Today, I will wash the windows.”

Happiness is harder.

Consider the masters’ description
of awakened existence, how seemingly simple:
Hungry, I eat; sleepy, I sleep. Is this choosing completely,
or not at all?

In either case, everything seems to conspire against it.

It Was Like This: You Were Happy

It was like this:
you were happy, then you were sad,
then happy again, then not.

It went on.
You were innocent or you were guilty.
Actions were taken, or not.

At times you spoke, at other times you were silent.
Mostly, it seems you were silent—what could you say?

Now it is almost over.

Like a lover, your life bends down and kisses your life.

It does this not in forgiveness—
between you, there is nothing to forgive—
but with the simple nod of a baker at the moment
he sees the bread is finished with transformation.

Eating, too, is a thing now only for others.

It doesn’t matter what they will make of you
or your days: they will be wrong,
they will miss the wrong woman,
miss the wrong man, all the stories they tell will be tales of their
    own invention.

Your story was this: you were happy,
    then you were sad,
you slept, you awakened.
Sometimes you ate roasted chestnuts,
    sometimes persimmons.

“Pocket of Fog” from “After” to be published by HarperCollins in February 2006, first published in MiPoesias; “Happiness Is Harder” from Given Sugar, Given Salt, published by arrangement with HarperCollins Publishers; “It Was Like This: You Were Happy” from “After.” first published in The New Yorker

Temple
Get Daily Dharma in your email

Start your day with a fresh perspective

a photo of a Buddhist meditating
Explore timeless teachings through modern methods.

With Stephen Batchelor, Sharon Salzberg, Andrew Olendzki, and more

See Our Courses

Thank you for subscribing to Tricycle! As a nonprofit, to keep Buddhist teachings and practices widely available.

This article is only for Subscribers!

Subscribe now to read this article and get immediate access to everything else.

Subscribe Now

Already a subscriber? Log in.