Erase a statue of Buddha, eyes lidded on nonexistence,
Erase topiary.
Take away red paint and gilding if you can.

This is a place to sit for a while,
the mats fresh,
smell of rain in rushes.

A crane glides without moving its wings
over the stream's length.
Peonies bloom in silk.

Is the stream a part of nature, or has it been
altered by the sages?
A shower blows up among cypresses up trail.

The tea master is away.
Otherwise, how should I be here?

Over foothills scrolling,
mist brightens and evanesces.
Families of monkeys move over the ridge above,
through jungle, mist frozen on their muzzles.

Brown smoke from cooking fires
finds a path up there
from where the nomads camp.
God knows what they are burning.

Then the clear green tea:
green like water the bottom of the ocean,
but hot as a bowl of soup.

Behind us, the trek over the mountains,
hand-drawn maps, bad knees and brambles.

Who knows what thundery warlord or dakini
caused the wind to blow the clouds
from one side of the mountain to the other?

Where the trail switchbacks above us,
two immortals play at chess.


© 2008 Richard Tillinghast, All Rights Reserved