Poetry by Margaret Chula
Imperfect Zen circle, this broad brushstroke
lush tongue of wetness, not quite touching
from beginning to end, needing
to be completed by the viewer’s eye.
The master’s waka poem ripples
down the border of a moldering scroll
with faded ink scratches of bird claws.
A nightingale warbles from deep
within the plum blossoms.
The black-robed monk wields
his horsetail brush like a broom.
Ink pools beneath his bare feet
to form the hieroglyph ensõ,
a darkness so immense
that he can step inside,
fill it like a cave.
ensõ: in Zen, a circle symbolizing enlightenment, the universe, and the void
What We Hold
Even a hole holds itself,
hard-packed dirt rounded
into a funnel. Empty,
it opens to the light.
Nests cradle eggs, protecting
chicks until they are ready to peck
out of their opaque heaven.
Lovers clutch in a tight embrace
to feel the edges of themselves
as they merge and part
and become self-contained.
When do we hold on and when do we release?
When a fist opens, anger disappears.
Hands return to pockets of clinging lint.
A feather released from its wing
discovers its own direction.
Incense burns best when the lid
cracks open and the fragrance
of sandalwood is allowed to escape
through the ribs of the jade dragon.
Even the Buddhist circle ensō,
the universe and the void,
is left open at the end
of the brushstroke
letting everything in
Art by Linda Gould