Thursday, December 19, 2013

Ryokan's Night Journey \ Yaqui Well

Alan: We are blessed with our night sky – one of the last places along the east coast of the U.S. where you can still see stars by the thousands - although light pollution now smears the horizon here and there.   How many stars, how many constellations, must Ryokan have seen!

Ryokan’s Night Journey
                 “If someone asks my abode I reply: the east edge of the Milky Way.”

Over his hut the stars.
What did he name them? how shape his sky?
Night after night, winter, summer, watching:
dip, turn, rise, vanish.
Were there beasts, hunters?
Rice paddles, plows?
Or were they stones, way-marks?
On a night this cold
did Ryokan take his stick
and ascend through snowy woods?
Those bright ones, hanging there –
were they a question? or a path?

Nancy: The “well” was nothing more than a pit deepened every night by coyotes.  To the coyotes we owed the small grove of trees, the chattering flock of birds, the broken shards of pottery that showed us the past.

Yaqui Well

From here you can see the waterhole.
No one comes but the birds,
no one laughs,
no one kindles the fire,
no one pours from the dripping jug.
It is broken.
They killed the pots,
killed the tools,
tore down the shelters of brush
and burned everything.
Everything was gone,
the coyote songs, grandfather songs,
the first man and first woman,
the beginnings
and slow steps on the sacred ways.
The circle was broken.
The only path left led to the end of things.
They killed the pots,
and took the path of unsanctified bones.

The water is a sweet secret in the ground.
Coyotes come in the dark, and dig.

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