Yes, I truly a dance
Living among trees and plants
Please don’t question me about illusion
    and enlightenment—
This old fellow just likes to smile to himself.
I wade across streams with bony legs,
And carry a bag about in fine spring
That’s my life,
And the world owes me nothing.

The gaudy beauty of this world has no
    attraction for me—
My closest friends are mountains and rivers,
Clouds swallow up my shadow as I
    walk along,
When I sit on cliffs, birds soar overhead.
Wearing snowy straw sandals, I visit
    cold villages.
Go as deep as you can into life,
And you will be able to let go of even



What I see in the mirror is not who I am.

Another face walks the city streets
Copying Ryokan on street lamps and
    cement walls,
Writing poems with children on balloons
    and flower petals.
Like a fool of the temple I talk to myself
And laugh aloud at the conversation.

I wear a blue denim robe and carry only a
    silk bag.
If you need comfort or a lost memory or a
    new name
I reach into my bag and give you what
    you need.
The beauty of the world, the passing shadows
Are my constant companions.

Come quickly
I may die unable
To let go of the apple blossoms.

Come quickly,
Before the cornhusks harden I want to say,
This is my life. I have no regrets.


From Between Two Souls by Mary Lou Kownacki, © 2004 Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Reprinted with permission.