/ Poetry /
The last day of silence, of retreat,
of respite brings a challenge: a solo hike
in a forest 9,000 feet above sea level
where the wild beckons.
We are told that monks go into the forest
with only their robes, an empty bowl,
a set of choices. Tudong, it's called.
They must have faith or starve.
I have been starving too, wasting away
while ravenous clocks eat me bit by bit.
I seesaw between work and home,
both a weight I can no longer bear.
The grind has worn me down to the nub.
Even the art mews and paws greedily.
Guilt multiplies and I don’t add up.
Slices of me subtracted, there is so little left.
I faithfully crawl into the woods and seek rest,
a beggar prostrating on the forest floor.
Industrious ants gnash and gnaw entire cities below,
and here I’ve come, empty handed, a pauper.
The Land gives generously: an abundance of daisies
and an invitation to cover myself in their golden pollen,
filling my eyelids, my mouth, my throat, my belly.
I gorge at this feast, grateful to finally be fed.