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Kate Garrett

A Butterfly Pausing

 

My mind is full; thoughts of how to empty it flutter

around on dusty wings. This morning my son watched

squirrels, asked me why they easily fall in love,

yet people find it so difficult. I couldn’t answer him.

Now the sunlight pushes through late spring evening windows

forming halos around the heads of the chattering

sangha as the tang of rooibos cleanses my tongue.

 

No caffeine, no sugar. No cigarettes. This is serious business.

 

I slip out of my shoes, trek up the stone steps

on newly tattooed feet, the fresh ink my dubious pledge

to an unknowable universe. My bow into the modest

temple is barely a nod, a nudge through the thin-scented smoke.

I sit out the evening in a half-lotus, trying to forget my sore feet,

and everyone sitting, measuring the absence of time in breaths.

The squirrels try to come back; my butterfly mind won’t rest.

 

I give up, and the wings slow down, but they never stop.

 

The chime rings out, metallic and full, to bring the sangha

round. If I open my eyes too quickly, the commotion

will fly into the open, through my mouth.

I keep them closed a moment longer, then tidy away this quiet,

one cushion, one blanket at a time,

with careful steps. The backward process, replacing shoes,

down the cold stairs, a man asks if I need a lift.

 

I think of the squirrels, tell him thanks, but I’ll get the bus home.

 

 

Zen Cat

 

Little Zen cat says: Woof!

 

and wants me to hand over the beads.
Then she tries to tell me there are no

beads, and there is no cat, no me.

 

So, she purrs, just hand over the beads.

I protest. She smacks me with her paw, smiles,

and curls her tabby tail around her white body.

 

It occurs to me she is a feline incarnation
of a great master. Though she’s forgotten

her belief in not harming sentient beings,

 

as the fly she took down in the kitchen

would confirm if it still lived. She’s been

sent to teach me lessons that can’t be taught

 

with words or thoughts. Zen cat taps her paws

across my laptop keys, inserts numbers

and symbols into my poetry. Helping,

 

she chirps, to expand your little human mind.

But above all, she wants the (non-existent) wooden

beads – all 109 of them, and their string –

 

so she pushes her pink nose into my hand; nips

at the tassel, then bats at my toes. My eyes are closed,

but she has work to do. I open them and scowl.

 

Meow, little Zen cat chuckles, I was only joking.

 

 

Kate Garrett is a thirtysomething poet living in Sheffield, UK. She is in her final year of the Creative Writing BA at Sheffield Hallam University. Kate has been published in Now Then, Ink (Hallam Creative Writing Magazine), and participates in various projects and collaborations. Her three cats and three children couldn't care any less about poetry, as long as she feeds them all.