What They Are

Is it not the ruthlessness of light that strips us,
one by one, of light’s beguiling illusions?
What remains, once the fictions of illumination
we have cherished are revealed for what they are?
At dawn, light spreads evenly over sage and fool.
At noon, lazy carp graze silently in willow’s shade.
At dusk, bonfires along the shore blaze up against
the dark immensity that reduces them at last to ash.
At midnight, no word.
An intermittent freezing drizzle shrouds
a light-torn sky; from vaporous snowfields
a diamond sutra forms, white narcissus opens.
Dreaming of the spirit world, etched stones
slumber while this old good-for-nothing
smokes the pipe of evanescence.
Tonight the gods are silent, yet in the dark
a lone wolf’s cry expresses wondrous power.
In reply, the restless wind, whirling around
some random flakes of drifting snow, agrees.

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