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Tuesday, February 25, 2020

The Middle Way

Entropy. Cartilage has vanished from between
long leg bones, and I have become
dependent; may I have some help please
with these pants, these socks, this clacking

knee brace, this burgeoning heaped skunkish
laundry full of everything that leapt from
the spoon onto my clothing, this tea welling up
somehow from my cup's brim to spread across

the tidal flat of my shaking hand and fill
the sea cave of my sleeve? Ah, and if
last night's frost has subsided enough,
perhaps even with such a day's beginning

I can hope to step into these two unmatched
clogs and shamble on, past undone chores,
gathering up my left-hand stick and my right-
hand stick, and walk the dog. There is no dog;

what he left behind lies there: that small
basaltic stupa, littered with seasonal
offerings -- lately, deadnettles that wilt
in such hurry. But I call to him anyway;

he loved these walks so, that I feel obliged,
knee brace and all, to retrace our kinhin route
each weekday Armageddon fails to materialize.
Oaks throw shade; in summer I seek them,

in winter avoid. This is a ritual. As when I sit,
as when I chant, I know, even when tongue tied,
or falling asleep, or feeling my knee brace loosen and drop
just as I stagger into the ditch to avoid a truck,

that ritual is a kind of living being, made up of
my life and also the lives of all who participate
in some way, such as: "are you going to 'walk
the dog?'" Yes. "Have you got some water and

your phone?" Yes. "Okay; if you're not back
in an hour, I'll come looking for you." I bobbled
the Heart Sutra this morning, as I always do,
but this little exchange of hearts is itself

the Middle Way. Along the road, taking tiny
steps, tinier every year, I stop
to watch a robin angling for its worm.
The little dog that isn't there

wags his universe of tail.

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