Secret Thing

The dog sniffs determinedly at something smaller
than people can see, some tiny secret hidden
in the rocky ground that couldn’t care less.
The sky doesn’t care, the ground doesn’t either.
In that way, heaven and earth mirror each other
in their eternally impersonal detachment.
Observing the scene, you may begin to suspect
that your favorite god has vanished for good,
that you have been left to fend for yourself.
You may suddenly have the urge to take some drug
which nobody has yet conceived of, so that you’d be
like heaven and earth, and no longer have to care.
Once the ordinary dirt complicated itself and fashioned
a body with which to love the sky. Now I’m standing
here in its place, god-like, and I am looking up.
I am looking, and I see something smaller than people
can see, something secret in the sky that couldn’t care less.
There it is now — a cloud waiting to take form and shape.
Just because it doesn’t yet exist, people will go about
their business, not caring. But I am like the dog —
I am intrigued. I will not cease, how could I?
It is my original face, before I was born, before I began
to care. Before a thought becomes heaven and earth,
all of the clouds hang in a realm of pure potentiality.
Pristine, spacious, cognizant, empty — all these good words
mean nothing to the dog sniffing around for that secret thing.
That’s the power of curiosity: because it doesn’t know, it cares.
In our love of the unknown, we are not that different.
We are our own favorite god, whom we have created
just as it is creating us. It knows our secret word.
Words can make things seem like they are other things —
maybe more richly romantic, imbued with an imaginary
incandescence, able to provoke both tears and laughter.
In reality, the secret thing may not be any more complicated
than this: like a cloud suspended in an idea or feeling,
everything is shining here, waiting for us to care.

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