by Bruce Kinky
The Ultimate Gift from One Lover To Another... Release. Death.
|M - T
A study in Zen
Brandon A Anderson
A half-note above silence. Sharp. Discordant. I’m not sure if I am dying or not. I believe I am… or at least, I should be. Mornings led me up rivers, into currents, within and without the flow. I floated and woke into a world that was not mine. Her curves were foreign, deceptive and violent because of their unknowable expanses. I wanted to be absorbed in her, several planes of existence from mine. She smiled and I needed her to take me with her when she left. Crying, pleading, and grasping only pushed her further away.
* * * * * * * * * * *
We had a short courting period. The marriage, to her dismay, was pre-arranged. Her parents spoke quickly, softly, and her father offered his hand, a banker, to me. Looking at her at that moment was like flattering the furies, silencing the sirens. Reflections in a dusty mirror, her eyes dulled when she became mine. Later in life, I thought that she might love me. I would wipe the mirror clean and bring her brightness back. Demure as seasons passed, she was tolerant. I moved in and out, inhaled and exhaled, and she, without mind or body, was a swinging door. She swung freely and I tried to be the frame that she was hinged upon. Silent and soft, she smiled at my efforts. I sensed a longing in myself, a basic and primal need to hold on to her. She was a passing cloud to my embraces. I held only myself. Why will she not love me?
Time elapses. Lapses. Time elapses to the sight of her. Five years after the day that I became her husband I returned early from the fields. A good crop; the seeds were planted correctly by the moon and the harvest blew in with opportune timing. As I approached the landing, I called to her. On past evenings she would wait with a bowl of rice and opium. The incense she burned in the early evening perfumed the air and greeted my presence at the doorway. Lavender--the smell of love, loving, life. This day, however, there was no rice and no incense. This evening there was no wife. An unsettling emotion stirred beneath my naval and rose to meet the knot in my throat. I called again. After an eternity of moments, I regained my composure and entered our hut. The main room was empty. Reeling, I fell to the dirt floor. My eyes rolled and each blink promised transcendence from pain. These promises were not kept. My reality was shaken and I felt as though I were frozen. The world around me became an ice field. There was no going and no coming.
I slowly became aware of a migratory hum, a fleeting buzz that seemed to come from the garden. This tone did not only come to my ears, but touched all senses. I crawled towards the patio portal. I saw her.
She was seated against the wall facing outwards toward the garden and the misty mountains beyond. The forms of those mountains floated in and out of perception, from solidity to mere suggestion. The mist was especially thick that evening as though the clouds had melted all over the landscape.
Her legs were folded together so that her knees rested on the gravel. Her right foot was on her left thigh and her left foot was on her right thigh. I could not tell where one half of her body began and where the other ended. Her spine was straight, her eyes slightly open, and her breathing radiated throughout the whole garden. The buzz! Her breath was the hum that brought me here. I looked at her hands, hands that were so gentle and the hands that I would have. I loved her hands, their patience and content. Her hands were mine and lost their magnificence. They became utilities for my ends, my bowls of rice, my sore muscles, and my dirty feet. I held her hands when we were married. I felt them die. I held her hands at dusk. I held them after my dinner. We sat watching the sun disappear from view leaving a void that soon filled with darkness. Space cannot exist without the promise of something to fill it. Once filled, it is no longer space, but without possibility, it is simply void.
Void is not Space.
Her hands were resting on her ankles, the right hand meeting the left forming another union of extremities. The thumbs touched gently, bent towards each other, a lotus admiring its reflection in still water. The circle of her hands echoed the white sand of her garden. Drawn ripples carried on eternally, perfect in proportion and equidistant from the dark spot in the center. I have seen her work in the garden before with her bamboo rake. Her hands were alive in that moment. Tonight, they were alive again. Alive, the garden pulsed and I could only stare in awe. The mist from the mountains came down to meet the white sand. Two become one. An entity, united in uniqueness.
* * * * * * * * * *
My grandfather had a coin he would flip as he walked. I followed him and he would flip, the coin would land and without rest, it would take flight again. I once asked him why he never looked at the outcome. I said that I could not tell which side it landed on when he caught it because he threw it up into the air so quickly. He smiled at me and patted my head.
“Every time it is the same coin.”
* * * * * * * * * * *
I tried to stand and look away from the garden. It was everything that I wished I could have at any moment in time. I wanted it so badly but its ephemeral nature prohibited my possessing of it. It was hers. As I stood I looked to her face. It had disappeared into the mist. It was the face she had before her father and mother were born. She was breathing. Still.
I ran inside. I could not escape her breath. Her breath brought the outside world into her and released her inner world to the outside. I was caught in the ebb and flow of her relationship to the garden, the mountains, the seas, the waterfalls, the catfish, the punishing wind, and the revitalizing breeze. I needed to grab onto something. I was losing control of my thoughts. I remembered the smell of my mother, the heavy weight of her eyelids. I remembered my father and the way his arms would seem as wood when he was angry and feathers when he held me. I remembered the night of our consummation. I remember how soft her hair was and how the black eternity of night air brought us to a point of isolation. I saw myself hiding tea leaves from my family so that I could put them in my pillow and breathe sweetly as I slept.
I was stuck.
I could not escape thought. I felt as if I were going to burst.
She stood in the doorway. Her silhouette floated. The fog entered the hut, solid, and I was afraid that it would knock me down. I reached out my hand to press it away but passed right through it. I stumbled towards where I remembered her being last, arms outstretched, a blind man without a cane. The thoughts continued. I longed for the past and I was nervous about the future. Time became something alien and my mind tried to wrap itself around it. I couldn’t catch it. I tried to determine the beginning of the mist. Where did this fog come from? Does she notice it? Where is she? What was she wearing? I’m looking for purple, she always wears purple. Was she wearing purple? Is it cold? I feel cold. No, I feel hot. The ground is warm. Where is that hum coming from? If I can find it, I can find her. Please, where is my chair? At least if I could use that to lean on… WHERE IS SHE?
I felt a sharp and sudden sensation below my naval again and, looking down, I saw her hands. They were holding a sword, only the hilt could be seen. The blade was buried deep in my abdomen. My blood spilled lavishly onto the ground. The dirt thirstily soaked it up and I watched the blood and ground unite. There were no thoughts, there were no sounds, there was only FLASH!
* * * * * * * * * * *
I’m not sure if I’m dying. If not I should be. I look up and can see her. She is smiling, and her eyes say “I love you.” After she sees that I know, she turns and leaves. In the flash, variety and unity become the same, I don’t want anything, anything belongs to anything. Nothing belongs to nothing. I belong.
Do not seek truth from others:
Further and further she will retreat from you.
Alone I now go,
And I come across her wherever
She is no other than myself,
And yet I am not her.
When this is understood,
I am face to face.
A half-note above silence.