Tag Archives: family

Cardboard Box

I’m finally looking into the cardboard box
I brought home from my mother’s house late last month;

The clementines she had insisted I take
and perched on top have long since been eaten;
it’s been otherwise untouched
sitting in the corner of the yellow room.

Two pairs of my infant pajamas–
The yellow, corduroy pair with the embroidered lion,
the faded white and green night dress.
She had remarked on the drawstring she had sewn into the bottom–
how it was still there–
the fold-over sleeves to keep me from scratching myself
as I slept in my crib.

My white shoes, too, laces gone,
but still with their impossibly stiff bottom;
my grandmother’s blue-and-white Canton ware,
wrapped in the 1975 Daily News of Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Just before I left,
we had sat on the basement couch flipping through
faded Kodak prints, square with rounded corners,
taken before we moved into the house on the hill.

We paused at one where I wore that night dress,
my sister and I standing
in the deep darkness of an evening east window.
There were others, too, from that forty-years-ago,
and she told me again about each one.

We had such fun, she said,
such fun.

Six

Ophoto
 
he knows now how to read.
he won’t pass through kindergarten again.

he won’t bring home another packet of sight words,
tape them to the wall
over his largely-unmade bed,
lie in the darkness,
read them by flashlight.

that moment,
that emerging,
that world,
that lifetime,

that he-and-I
is gone —

and I want it back.

Buddhism might one day free me from suffering, but not from being human. If anything, I feel my joy, my sadness, anguish, loneliness and contentment more acutely. Buddhism promises the possibility of welcoming each one. It has taught me, even, to welcome my attachments, to not run away from even my clinging.

My relief from suffering, when it arises, comes not from stoicism. Instead, it arrives when I allow the joy and dukkha that are the essence of fatherhood to be together. It comes when I turn and face them both and say, Yes, all of this. This is now. This is fatherhood. The wanting and the letting go. This is love. This is it. All of this. This is it.

I Walked in the Woods Today

I walked in the woods today
far under scattered clouds —
though it didn’t make me a boy again.

No dog by my side
circling ahead and back,
no sense of wonder at where I might emerge.

Patches of snow from an indecisive December
lay astride the path and filled in hollows.

Straining for the distant sound
of my mother’s voice
calling me in from play,
I heard only birds calling.

Nearly a month from moment to paper, when everything but renunciation seems a struggle.

Touching the Heart Mind

In a few hours time, I’ll be seated on a zafu and zabuton at the Temple, where I will sit for sesshin until Monday, rising for dokusan, sleep, kinhin, and to serve meals.

Outside, the sun will set and then rise to shine through autumn-colored leaves while small animals collect winter food. Cars and trucks will move down the road in front of the Temple as people inside them tune radios, make phone calls, and converse with friends and family.

Farther away, my wife and children will shuttle back and forth to soccer games and gymnastics, laughing, running, probably arguing too. We may take tea at the same time, not seeing but perhaps knowing.

Each of us will chase thoughts before stumbling upon moments of rest. We will cry. We will take breaths and release them, feeling the air around us, shouting and whispering.

Summer Evening Wandering

Company is coming,
so I wander from room to room
putting things in proper places.

The night air is finally cool
as it drifts through the children’s windows —
I find reasons
to return magazines,
makeshift duct-tape wallets;
to drop off bracelets,
baby food jars filled with water and glitter.

I linger in each room,
the dim and waning light
shadowing small bodies as they sleep,
then turn toward the hallway
and the softness of an old
incandescent bulb
we can’t let go of
shining on the maple floor.

Five

The arc on the old swing is short
and the set rocks uneasily
from so many seasons
in the snow and rain.

He has known it
for all of his five years,

but now runs to it less often,
lingers not as long.

Just the other day
he asked me for a push,
one he doesn’t need anymore —
a big one, he said,
and laughed
as he rose and fell
straining back,
reaching upward.

The blue sky was clear
and closer than it used to be.

Completing the set with companion pieces Ten and Almost Eight.