Dharma Talk

Morning Dilemma

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Morning Dilemma

Awake at four this morning.

Outside it’s dark and rainy.

Nothing’s visible

beyond a few sketchy trees,

a white fluorescent streetlight

one block over like

a chunk of moon lodged in

winter branches. A day to stay

inside and read a novel

about almost-human

robots. Thank God for novelists.

Old age would be

insupportable without them.

Meditate, read novels, write poems

now and then, stare out the

window, love my wife:

that’s my plan for growing old,

my ambition. A ladybug

walked across my desk

a few minutes ago.

Do they fly around in the cold

rain of December? I considered

sliding a piece of paper

under it, opening the window,

and flicking it into


the outer darkness, like a word

flying off a page, but wondered

if it might prefer to stay inside

where it’s warm and dry.

And in any case, I would

have had to dislodge my cat,

and she had one foreleg

draped over her eyes,

as if the world were already

too much to bear, which it is,

and while I was struggling

with that decision, the ladybug

moved itself out of my

field of vision, eliminating

the problem without solving it.

Such was the morning’s drama

and dilemma—

darkness outside, a visitor

from the insect world, isolated

sharp light illuminating

a chalice of stripped branches,

a man with a cat on his lap

considering it all—

who’s to say we weren’t

a single being in that moment,


a moment of miraculous

consciousness spread across,

bestowed upon, arising from

these things I have seen and

named and briefly touch

with my mind before

the day begins.

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