"True knowledge can be only attained
when sought for its own sake, not for the gaining of
wealth, power, or renown..."
Once a year the Tan Hua blooms
water lily-shaped with spider orchid limb
spiraling in darkness, an elusive single flower
on succulent stem. Intoxicated by its scent, seekers
stay up late, change their morning scowls into patient
wait, and when the petals unfurl, sigh with delight.
Before dawn, a last wistful look then a drowned sleep.
The next day, distractions flood faces, frowns return.
Last night's delight - a white droop on a branch -
lays discarded in a bin. So fleeting, the search for beauty.
In the mind's eye, the lamas arrive on a milk cloud
from the Hundred Deities of the Land of Joy,
garlands of tuberose and marigold fly up to the cosmos,
heavenly beings sing with upward curved lips, reciting
sheaves of sacred verse. Words ripple to the sensitive ones,
rain of voices through ether. Here liquid truths melt
into willing ears - or drop as flash shower - short flood
not absorbed - though cleansed, soot appears again.
For some, words act adorn fancy dress patterns.
For others, words suture life-worn fabric.
The mind flashes through the day, and recalls
the Tan Hua flower, at peak intensity. Through choice
the flower can wilt again and again,
or remain in bloom, open-eyed.
If you've any comment on this poem, Annie Bien would be pleased to hear from you.