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Steven Sweeney

The More Things Change

The caller, who assumed that you still lived here,
enquired, halting my breath, about how it was going, after the first
treatments, while I watched a pair of doves peck at millet and sand
scattered beneath the feeder, and the change of leaves beginning to let go

of the maple branches, that red fox buried below, killed
by some predator in broad daylight while I was . . . asleep, let's say--
the puncture wounds still visible on the neck, its beauty hardly diminished
and I wish I had clipped some fur to tie fishing flies but, in that time,

I wasn't thinking beyond what I had encountered just then, upon returning,
leaning so far into my first tactile brush with such an animal that I
couldn't see anything else, not the shadow, not the light,
only the tree roots entering the sides of the hole I had dug, until the phone

rang again and I let it go to message, one that I would erase
in a few days' time--or a few years, some said--but meanwhile the Buddha
sits on the deck rail beside bodhi blossoms, compassionately awaiting my
answer: why do I still think that things endure, that belief is rewarded,

that these autumn woods will be full of the same trees come spring,
that the snowshoe tracks I leave when winter hides the sandstone marker
over the fox’s grave will not fill with spindrift, and disappear,
that this day is not as full, and as blessedly empty, as any other,

that this is the end of a story, and not the story itself?


Steven J. Sweeney lives near Stillwater, Minnesota, with his dharma dog, Mona Lisa.  His poem, "Hooked," was published in Issue 3 (Winter 2011) of the Buddhist Poetry Review.