Battering upon the gummy silence
I no longer feel any lever against this world.
The deaths are too many,
The births are too many,
The headlines chronicle too many hatreds and wars.
I have grown grey as much from the searing of ineffectuality
as from individual decay.
All I have left is a pencil, a voice, and a holy fire
To reassert that beaches and rivers remain baptismal
That youth remain fervent and devoted,
That joy remains the only great liberator.
I will strike out at the human world of folly, desecration,
With my weapon of consecrated fire
That burns away bitterness from the maturing seed.
Emptiness. I will draw in the raw banality of evil
with my emptiness,
With my absence of manipulations,
With my remove to the enfolding metamorphic hills.
My evenings will ring with rectitude and meditation
at the hour of owls.
It is through this “tapas”, this burning away of delusion,
That I can preserve and bestow my gift.
I invite you to my cabin, to my meditation hour,
To the empty husk of my best days.
Drawn like dried leaves into a hollow at the root of a tree,
Honored guests will wend their way across the burning ground.
When they arrive, even if it is after centuries,
Among the ashes old pine cones will still be roaring
With the heat of a conflagration
That consumed everything but one indestructable seed.
If I cannot purify this world entirely
Then let me at least be recognized
As someone who curled beneath the soil of the ages
Conjugal with the purifying spark.
Tell me that you, too, realize
That our human eyes are signal fires
Flashing messages of hard-won tranquililty
Backward into the oncoming hordes.
Paul Fleischman is a psychiatrist and a Teacher of vipassanā meditation in the tradition of S.N. Goenka. He is the author, among other works, of Cultivating Inner Peace and Karma and Chaos.