Thoughts on the subject:
Everyone knows I did not make up that title, and even Toni Morrison, who did, didn’t either.
What’s old is new. To finding. My own old poem goes like this:
Today I encountered the Buddha,
Just past or just before,
Depending upon which way you go
Opens doors in early hours
She sat on the cinder block partition
Between the window and the walk
Waiting for me to notice her
Or not, depending on how you look at it.
Her stomach was softly round, like mine
A little bigger, perhaps we’re the same age
I think her days have been much fuller
Her letters to the world, not so trite
The same poem rings
Across America, the color of the writing
Depends upon, I guess, the chance crayon
Someone found lying on the ground?
I’ve long pondered street calligraphy:
An artist’s tools don’t come cheap
So, by habit, one I’ve given up
Dramatically—this is My Last Day—
I stopped to buy my drink of choice.
One glance foretold I’d order
One for her, and one for me
Add crumb cake, if it looked fresh
I’ve been wondering why
I’ve had this daily craving, and it’s not natural—
Now I know. Today I found her.
This person wore decent clothes
For October in (southerly) California
Lucky her, lucky me
We don’t need that extra sweater
But there she was, this cool morning
I suddenly felt hungry, hadn’t I eaten?
For I keep plenty of food at home—
(Lately, I’ve been aiming
A simple request
Toward my mind—
Give food a rest, just let me be
Alone, without, for a while.)
And I’ve found a certain satisfaction
Delight, really, in not eating
And the thoughts that float across my vision
Seem more like pure white wine—
Old connotation, since I no longer partake
(and that avid vow reveals my truer story)
it’s the color I’m thinking, gold bubbles rising lightly
the way grape gleams through the curvature
of the dew-struck glass—
Transparency is what I’m after.
Coffee is brown mud, bad for the stomach
A substitute pleasure
For childhood days, when
Hot chocolate stirred our deepest imagination
And marshmallows sweetened the simple treat
Today, in Buddha land
We form a friendly line
And pretend to be adult
And ask for yes-leave-room-for-cream
Or better yet, squirt whip on top
Add nutmeg, press on a lid, Pretty isn’t it,
The way the plastic molds the foam
Into a crystal egg shaped sculpture?
I walked back out
With two steaming paper cups
And a cinnamon roll
Melting the matching bag.
And saw her, waiting still
Sharing Dawn with the Street
Someone else had been before—
Nothing new, to my idea—
And had chosen a grander size
The cup graced the concrete table
I smiled at her when I apologized,
But she reassured my intent
“It’s okay I’ll have some more,”
As I went ahead and placed it down
And handed her the sugar packet
“I added milk already,” my explanation—
She knew as well as I
Most don’t drink it straight up.
“Thank you, “ hers a dreamy voice
one that learns to speak
not hearing others
But she looked me full in the eye
And straight, but crinkled
And smiled at me
When my fingers touched her golden
Politely, she held back
Until I stepped away
From opening the warm gooey sack—
Had she’d noticed I didn’t have one?
I guess all California was awake by then.
I hope so
So they wouldn’t miss anything
That might be happening
The beans they grind Here must be better than anything sold from roadside stands There. In places where they don’t print inspirational poems on waxed serving ware. Or string teabag messages inside colorful boxes. I wonder how those people learn to ponder the one true path without such instructive labels. Resting after picking leaves or berries, Do they simply ask for this help with recyclable prayers? CAR 2007