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.
Little Zen cat says: Woof!
me to hand over the beads.
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.
to me she is a feline incarnation
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.