THE HERMIT OF THE MARSH

October 19, 2007 at 10:11pm (Poetry)

 

The hermit of the marsh,

squatting in his thatchy hut alone,

painted his face with mud and chanted, Om.

 

Sounds among the yarrow stalks:

             shaking pumpkins;

                          floating bones;

                                    drowning bees;

                                               awakening stones.

 

We searched for omens in each of these.

“What do you see” we asked.

                                              “Nitchevo,” you answered.

“What do you hear?” we asked.

                                                  “Nitchevo,” you said.

“What? Do you see nothing? hear nothing?”

 

I neither hear the pumpkin shaking,

nor the bones breaking,

nor the bees drowing.

 

                                    “But the stones, the stones,”

we say, “We hear them singing.

                                                singing to the bones.”

 

                                                 * * * *

So now we wait again in this uncertain

hour, between the dark and the daylight,

when the Nightshade begins to flower

and cicada sing:

                       

                      Hos-podi po-milwi. Has-podi po-milwi.

 

A lazy beetle rolls its dung across

the sky, while you and I gather moss.

 

Meanwhile, in another time and place,

the hermit of the marsh has flown his coop,

but left this note:

 

                           Be still, and know that I am gone

back home.

                    Om Shanti Shanti Shanti Om.

 

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