Slant Water: Meditation at the Half Moon
Sitting shamatha, my eyes unfocused;
following my breath as it leaves my body,
and appears at once again unbidden
in my pale lungs. It leaves again,
The world leans east, and the hanging sun
is edged from the window: the shadows slide away,
like clothes on the deck of a heeling clipper ship;
say some China merchant, reckoning on a killing
in tea and opium, racing for a Middle Kingdom
he can't begin to imagine.
If you think you're making no progress,
said my teacher, you're probably going backwards.
The world leans harder. The ship
labors uphill now: the sea gets steeper
by the minute. We claw for a grip on the water.
At last we can go no further, splash down
gasping in a trough of thin black fluid,
the backwash of the tilted sea, but
calm in defeat, and rocking softly, awake
at last, we look up:
Stitched loosely to a faded blue silk sky
is the broken button of the moon.