The Rock in Mid-Lake Disappears & I Who Might



as well be a fine young prince am in cold water
treading. 12 feet out
                                     in all directions: fog. Without
emotion. The muffled plashing is my arms.
Gasps, mine. In eerie
                                       mist, Siddhārtha, curious,
left the palace. From gold-wheeled chariot saw a new thing,
wasted flesh. Lost
                                  all bearings. I kick my legs,
still health-club toned [oh, I’ve paid dues] & stay a bit
afloat. Saw too
                            the rot of leprous beggars, heard
fever’s starveling mutter. That fog—the color
                                                                                  of my hair beneath
what pricey grown a hemisphere away & pretty-boxed-up
henna does. The water
                                          coldens. Saw a corpse, its moisture
vapor in the pyre. I, muscles
                                                    frosting, who live North
American planet-spoiler, must suck hard air
                                                                                  & call. Saw bony
laborers, oxen a-sweat, insect bodies
                                                                    plowshare-sliced. But who
might hear? 1 friend is sick. 1, chafed raw. The rest
are sinking. With tired fear iced, I
                                                              shout. A voice from far no
-where
              responds. Not the Śākya sage. A man not dead
but in chill smoke, beyond location. My nostrils
                                                                                       drift
above the ripples. I call again: in dream his name
bells
          clear. Yet wakened by my own loud plea, I hear
it is a formless groan
                                       from middle-night, that hauls me [no,
no aim accomplished] out of gray lake,
                                                                       [into his drowsy
answering]
                      onto our chill [compassionate heat] white
rock [or temporary floe] of dryer-tumbled sheets.


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About the Author

Jeanne Larsen, author of Why We Make Gardens (& Other Poems), is Susan Gager Jackson Professor of Creative Writing at Hollins University.

Joseph Fasano, October

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