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August 15, 2016

A Poem for Zenkei by Jane Hirshfied

jane_hirshfieldSpell To Be Said Upon Departure

What was come here to do
having finished,
shelves of the water lie flat.

Copper the leaves of the doorsill,
yellow and falling.
Scarlet the bird that is singing.

Vanished the labor, here bells are.
Completed the asking.
Loosing the birds there is water.

Having eaten the pears.
Having eaten
the black figs, the white figs. Eaten the apples.

Table be strewn. Table be strewn with stems,
table with peelings of grapefruit and sweetness.

Table be strewn with sweetness,
what was here to be done having finished.

Blanche, you were, with Lou, my Zen godparents, the ones who first welcomed me into this sangha. You were the head of my dining room crew at Tassajara, and in later years the warm supporter of my practice with words, the kind and steady witness of it as a path. You practiced with us undisguised. When I last saw you, at Age Song, you were discouraged, and so I told you a story of Katagiri Roshi when he was dying. You answered me with one about Suzuki Roshi. Asked if he was afraid of dying, he said, “I know who I am.” Thank you for practicing with us as yourself. Thank you for your great kindness.

Jane Hirshfield

 

 

 

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