Do nothing and everything will be done,
that’s what Mr. Lao Tzu said, who walked
around talking 2,500 years ago and
now his books practically grow on trees
they’re so popular and if he were
alive today beautiful women would
rush up to him like waves lapping
at the shores of his wisdom.
That’s the way it is, I guess: humbling.
But if I could just unclench my fists,
empty out my eyes, turn my mind into
a prayer flag for the wind to play with,
we could be brothers, him the older one
who’s seen and not done it all and me
still unlearning, both of us slung low
in our hammocks, our hats tipped
forwards, hands folded neatly,
like bamboo huts, above our hearts.
On the eighth day he coined the word “alone”
and saw that it was as good as everything else.
A yellow school bus rattled down the lane,
a wind blew in a drainpipe, strong, mellifluous.
I brought two empty crates to the parking lot,
watched neighbors with briefcases and car keys.
At noon a mailman passed by where I sat
invisible, like a tree among trees.
Why, why, I asked. I wanted to know why,
but only scared a squirrel that dropped his acorn
when my voice broke silence unexpectedly—
a white noise in a wireless telephone.
My club soda went flat in the bottle. With a spit
of rain, a wind blew again from the lake.
I raised my index finger and touched it,
pleading, give me a break, give me a break.