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M.S. Rooney

the ten thousand things

 

and when my good friend jane and i

sat zazen after work at sokoji temple

in japantown in san francisco

thirty years ago and then only for

a year or two it was years after

shunryu suzuki roshi died and

the blushing young sensei in charge

did not seem to quite know what to make

of the six or seven eager mostly anglo sitters

who arrived each week and perched

on the temple’s black kapok filled zafus

and zabutons and faced the blank wall

and gasshoed to cushions and to each other

and to him and who followed the bells just so

and did zazen and kinhin at the right times

and drank green tea and bowed and gasshoed

and then went home and then wanting more

we all drove to tassajara in the los padres

national forest in the temple’s silver van

for sitting practice with tozen akiyama roshi

of milwaukee and dainin katagiri roshi

of minneapolis and arrived to find

thousands and thousands of small orange and black

and white butterflies swarming the grounds

circling and swirling and brushing faces

all the way up the hill on the dirt path

leading to shunryu suzuki’s memorial

and the carpet of fragrant yellow

and brown oak and laurel leaves

lying thick on the ground and slipping

beneath the thick soled sandals of

the guests of honor roshis

 

 

M.S. Rooney lives in Sonoma, California with her husband, poet Dan Noreen. Her work appears in journals and anthologies, including ASSISI, BLUESTEM, THE CORTLAND REVIEW, FUTURECYCLE, MAIN STREET RAG, and THEODATE.