Moons of knowing

Some context of this piece: (1) Where I live – the San Francisco Zen Center – many people have “temple shoes” that are easily put on and taken off – flip flops, clogs, birkenstocks, etc. It is permissible to leave one pair of shoes outside of one’s bedroom door. (2) There are certain times when it’s recommended to keep one’s gaze downward to reduce external stimulation, and many people find that after doing this for awhile just a glimpse of a shoe, or a robe, or the posture while walking is enough to tell you, oh there goes John or Mary.

I know his movements by the movements of his shoes.
I pass outside the door; they are there.
On returning: they are gone.
It’s a binary system, a light blinking on-off, on-off.
Inside-elsewhere, inside-elsewhere.

I know how she loves by the essence of her shoes.
These are not the new shiny shoes that in a moment of desire replaced the old
These shoes are a little bit taller on the outside,
textured by use at the toe
shoes for walking in the sticky parts and all.

I know how he loves by his footfall.
Making almost no noise
as if to save the floorboards from the burden
of his full weight.

I know her concentration by her walk.
Gliding, legs forming equilateral triangles with each step
The upward bob when one foot passes the other
giving away her constant curiosity.

I know everything I need to know about them by their moons
and the movement of their moons’ orbits around the center of their being

When the planet turns ever so slightly
So that their faces are caught in the light
reflecting off topographical irregularities
and coalescing into patterns upon patterns upon patterns
I am caught too, in fear, in rapture
An over-determinate wash of information drenching me with its painful beauty
triggering fear of annihilation.

I know I don’t need to suffer so
That I could look the other way
I know everything I need to know about them by their moons
So why, then, is it their faces that I always want to see?


About gretchen

Gretchen lives in San Francisco. She writes about Zen practice and mundane moments on a planet that is increasingly ... hot.
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