SELECTED POEMS

Seated Between Kensho and Numinosity: A Sestina

Comes then the soul into the unmixed light of God.
– Meister Eckhart

Dear Silence, this waiting is no less
             a longing, a deep craving to rid oneself
of want and need, how to look past the hours
             and days, as I read Plotinus and
Boehme into the calligraphy, and conversely,
             jaku metsu, ego erased like light
at the onset of night, Symeon’s omowanu as elusive,
             as we walk this hall, this
text of meditation rendering itself
             the object of meditation, bowl of milk like
old memory, attended to like the body,
             each movement vivid, a framed white,

Narcissus finding Echo in his reflection,
             or a lover’s gaze panning the white,
sensations and distractions noticed, then
             given space and a name, each a self
inhabited and pronounced, as concrete a koan,
             an oyster or vanilla orchid, like
this foam mandala, maple leaf patterned
             on thick soup, leek and split pea, and
how it disappears to say it is sand,
             that it should be made to dissolve, like this
moment, how I feel feet first, flesh on teak
             and oak, air well of morning light

as if lit from within, away from rain
             and thatched house, a Dharmapada light,
of desire distilled into a translucent quaver,
             then nothingness, sheen of white
as grounded a solidity, broad plateau
             of bulrush, heather and water reed, this
roof of eyes half-closed, shuttling outer world,
             forgotten yet present, the self
like Qu Yuan in a Hittite chariot,
             its wheels removed, Ezekiel at the helm, and
two Hekhalot mystics through each recitation
             in clusters, a figural Enoch like

the visions of Hildegard and Mechtild,
             thin clink of pictures, rough grain like
Jan van Ruusbroec’s penmanship,
             each Flemish phrase a boxed psalm, backlit
by one verse after another, of the divine
             and its ineffability, unknowable and
yet reached in the inner chambers of the soul,
             sudden flight, of tongues white
as shifting tides, soft waves adrift,
             ankles and calves like iron shafts, myself
but a shell of skin, yet material,
             hips, thighs, pelvis, stomach, open chest, this

muscling in to let me breathe, slow, deep
             between detachment and atopy, this
love beyond transcendence,
             Liebesmystik discovering its own smallness like
one more Rhineland savant
             tracing a forefinger across stone and paper, himself
stripped of knowledge, clean of gnosis
             and satori, brow and lips turning white,
ashen but warm, his back straight,
             tailbone riveted, the seat of tarmac, sunlight
on stark face, ruminations as ephemeral,
             as imageless, as formless, as pure and

empty a Deus nudus, as if everything
             was but nothingness, yet all things and
the many pristine somethings reduced
             to apatheia, Evagrius’ own desert, this
tranquil island like a reprieve and gateway,
             to emanate puritas cordis, white
zendo blinding, how there was no stage or proscenium,
             no showcase love like
music to bring our story home,
             its better moments shaped into votive lights,
how “Blessed are the pure of heart,
             for they shall see God”, how the true self

is negated yet raised beyond and over,
             abyss and bridge, contemplation, a self
no more distinct than this sanzen,
             an epiphany, its fire and air no more white
than the vast country of like minds,
             peace descending, this room a tour of light.

by Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé
from FOODPORN cum Maundy Thursday (2016)

 

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