The gathering wants to include me,
makes room for my chair
in their circle of stacked meditation pillows, crimson & black,
to place me between two women.
One is young with the back underside of her hair dyed green
clipped up in a barrette,
and sits lower than I on her plump cushions.
The other older one to my right
is on my level, in another chair,
dressed in soft clothes, zigzag hems,
her breasts great pears molded
underneath a layered peach sweater,
but her dark hair
spreads across her shoulders
down to her waist
and stray wisps reach out to me
like some hippy’s who looks more
like a designer witch, instead of intriguing
and tosses her hair every minute or so,
so it flicks across
my shoulder again and I can’t help thinking
of the head lice and pinworms my grandsons
had picked up in their suburban schools.
I lean more to my left, eyes open as instructed
in the zombie gaze, at a 45 degree tilt but the young one
to my left, is undoing her green hair from the clip
and it is wet and stringy and she flips it to her left
and then to her right, I suppose to air it out,
aimed right at me, as a latecomer sits in a chair behind,
and I instantly lean back to whisper
“switch seats” and she generously whispers “no, no”
and I say loudly “yes, yes”
“I want to” and to my immense relief, I gather
my pad and pen and $50 textbook and tea and coat, and switch.
Today the comments annoy me more than usual,
the hopeful, unanswerable questions about nirvana
and why in meditation obsessive thoughts about judging
keep coming up
and I see the leader, the older man who I thought
would stand tall, like my Hungarian painting teacher
40 years ago, and instead is short
with a big head and he sits opposite me,
legs folded under him on his cushions,
the belt on his waist kind of hiked up
over his belly to his chest,
as he sits Buddha-like, softly laughing, laughing.
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