Room #8

or: “Let us not be submerged by the things of the world

I wrote this poem shortly after moving into the Zen Center, where my personal space became a room measuring about 10′ x 12′.

Looking in through the doorway,
It is apparent that this room is unit-sized.
One unit, the smallest increment.
All other magnitudes are just multiples of this room.
And I ask myself, did I order a room this small?

And from another direction, is this unit-sized room small enough?

A room that is large invites mistakes, invites messiness,
invites confusion of the issues in front of me.
The extra bar of soap waiting in line for the death of its predecessor;
the summer hat that I will wear only twice this year.
A few too many books on the dresser.
They would all speak softly during the night,
rhapsodizing about a place of their own,
a different drawer perhaps, one not so crowded,
and about the many ways to take care of them.

But this is a room where the oryoki and dark robes have their own place and keep quiet during the night.

In a small room I contemplate the sound of the letter “A” and how depending on inflection it can entice you to come closer or frighten you away.

In a small room I reduce my movements so that each limb is isolated and observed.
Can just this one arm I use to steady myself, move with kindness?
Can just this one eye that inspects my reflection, stay open and vulnerable?
Can just this one lung that admits air in and out, be soft and tender?

Can this dresser, this window, this unit-sized room, teach me to lie at your feet submerged in undistracted love?

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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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