No poem next week, as we will be at the Wonderland retreat (and there’s still a bit of room—please come if you can!). The retreat made me think of jukai, and of my Dharma brothers and sisters now and to come; as always, the right poem seemed to appear as soon as I started looking.
As I read this poem the last line took me up short: I wondered, does it conflict with Doen’s always reminding us that we’re just travelers, that we’re just passing through this world? I don’t think it does. Oliver’s “simply visiting” means “not engaging,” and both Oliver and Doen speak for a deep, passionate engagement in the reality that is our daily lives. As Doen tells us, the fact that we’re just passing through means that nothing is too serious, nothing too binding, and there’s nothing to stop us from enjoying our lives if we just open up to them.
When Death Comes
When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse
to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox;
when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,
I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?
And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,
and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,
and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,
and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.
When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.
I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.