Poetry Daily: http://www.poems.com/

Huang Po and the Dimensions of Love

Huang Po taught his students they were already
enlightened. I know of one student of Zen

who threw a translation of Huang Po
out of his apartment window, and the book,

like a block of wood, made it, on more than one
occasion, into an open trash can beside the curb.

This is not unlike the dimensions of love:
we feel the elephant ears of it, massage

the lion's paws of it, stroke the tiger's belly
of it, and are startled by the snort

steaming from the nostrils of the horse of it
that has run the field of it. We are illumined,

but we are unwilling to acknowledge its power;
so we remain unable to find what it is in ourselves

that is either falling in love or agape;
not understanding at all nor understanding

what is sublime. We may be able to pick through
the litter of the streets to discover a translation

of Huang Po's teaching among the trash.
We are the ones who threw it there.

We confuse seeing the wood with the true wood,
and lose each other halfway—

we see the wood of ourselves,
but miss the divine grain of the ordinary.

Wally Swist

Huang Po and the Dimensions of Love
Southern Illinois University Press

To view this poem online, visit the Poetry Daily archive at http://www.poems.com/archive.php
View a large-print version of this poem