Sestina #2

‘There are many ways to be blind,’

A mantra that curls in my head, thin trails of incense,

A mandala I trace each day in grey dust

Outside my door, before I run my fingers over the green

Railings and descend into the multi-threaded chaos of the world, raging white water

Every time I draw breath.

Today I have a momentary escape from the breath

Of the city, from the acres of blind

Eyes and stagnant water.

Today I travel ground-up small as incense,

Drifting towards this eclipsing montage of green,

A blinding libretto of nature that grinds plain words to dust.

All this happens in a moment, I am rubbing dust

Between my palms, and now each tautly drawn breath

Carries inside me the humid rush of green

That leaves my other senses blunted and blind,

The mystique of sharp incense,

The circuitous, infinite life of water.

The rain is only gentle feathers of water,

Soft,incipient, pluming liquid dust.

Even after they shake, my hands are yellowed and perfumed by incense

And the Buddha climbs in and out of me with each breath…

Now, once again, I am blind,

But with purpose. I can hold the world in a precious fragment of green.

I let the bodhi leaf slip, green

Masterpiece of reconstructed water;

Suddenly I am no longer blind

Folded, the dampened paper is removed as simply as stray dust,

And something is rushing into me as silent as breath:

Something much more than simple sandalwood incense.

One last twist of incense

Between the fingers and I am gone, out into the sunlight with the green

Leaf still gripped in the mind’s hands, the breath

Moving slowly, turning, the eyes adjusting, gaping like koi on the fine surface of the water.

What I knew before is as pale and ancient as dust,

I could see, but I was boundlessly blind.

I am forced to mix incense with water,

To wash the green and the dust alike from my hands:

The breath of the sestina reminds me of the many ways to be blind.

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