Gasoline smell on my hands, perfume
From the generator’s toothless mouth,
Opening swallow from the green hose,
Sweet odor from the actual world.
There’s an old Buddhist saying I think I read one time:
Before Enlightenment, chop wood and carry water.
After Enlightenment, chop wood and carry water.
The ducks, who neither carry nor chop,
Understand this, as I never will,
Their little feet propelling them, under the water,
Serene and stabilized,
from the far side of the pond
Back to the marsh grasses and cattails.
I watch them every night they’re there.
Serenitas. I watch them.
Acceptance of what supports you, acceptance of what’s
Above your body,
invisible carry and chop,
Dark understory of desire
Where we should live,
not in the thrashing, dusk-tipped branches—
Desire is anonymous,
Motoring hard, unswaying in the unseeable.
This poem originally ran in the July 14, 2011, issue of the magazine.