First Spring Sun

The man swings the wet bell
of the temple, sending sound and dew  
into an abyss of dripping pine
below the coming light of the first spring sun.

Incense smoke flees in streams 
into the valley beneath.

The boy stares over the man’s arms
into the mist-shrouded trees. He remembers 
the man’s words over the fire 
late last winter when all was white:

“Time isn’t a line, boy. It’s the thing of streams. 
The swirling thread of your waking dream.”

On this morning, the boy waits for the man’s eyes 
to open before tapping his shoulder. 
He asks him again about time. 

“It’s the thing of streams, boy. We go swiftly, all of us. We go swiftly down on the river to revisit the whole shaking sea.”

The man grips the bell again. He shakes 
it through until another patch of dew slides 
over the ledge into the morning. 

The boy clasps his hands together. He feels
his heart thud against his rising ribs. 

The man speaks again. 

“I’ve seen you. How you struggle in the sitting hall. You have animals in the mind. Dragons, many dragons.” 

The boy flutters open 
his eyes. The man twirls around 
and grasps for the boy’s shoulders. 

“Listen to me, boy. I know why you traveled here.” 

He turns and sits against the nearest rock.

“It’s because of what they’re doing back home in the cities. What they’re doing to the mind. How they’re forcing everyone, everything into the mind.”

The boy leans on an uncomfortable edge.
He asks the man how to change the mind. 

“We must be a welcoming host for the mind. Like this. Come in! Come in! Sure, yes! Spin through and destroy the neatly placed couch. Fling the silverware about the table. Crack the window frames! Burst the pipes and cause a flood!. . .The mind, boy, is a playful pack of apes. Sit with them like old boyhood friends! They grow bored and move on. They do.”

A wind picks up. The melting snow
rains off the trees onto the boy. 

The man stands and again takes hold 
of the temple bell.

But he only stares, the man,
still like stone, gazing long
where incense smoke flees in streams 
into the valley beneath.

What are you looking for?