Massive, the sea sweeps
and swerves, furious as a dragon.
Salt-hewn, foam-
roughed, it troubles the thirteen
swallows who cluster—
identical, overlapping—trying
to build one steady thing.
Mist wets their breasts
and makes flying heavy.  The sea
has no shore.  All middle,
dense as middle age.
Birds may be welcome, then,
as minor miracles, granting grace
to that universal struggle.

—inspired by “Swallows and Waves,” a painting by Okamoto Shuki, 1785–1832, Japan

Read and listen to five additional poems from this series, paired with their inspirational images, here.


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.