Waiting for the great spring

Waiting for the great spring

Sometime in the late autumn
a visitor took up residence in my little room.
Next to my portrait of a stern Zen master,
a butterfly had folded its dark wings back,
attached itself to the wall and, unmoving, just stayed there.

I wondered if it were dead and slowly dessicating.
That’s how I sometimes feel myself.

On new year’s day, in the morning,
the forty-ninth anniversary of when I heard my dad had died,
my butterfly woke up;
I had made the room very warm
while I was half-naked, cutting my hair.

The butterfly fluttered against the window, trying to get out.
I resisted the simple urge to open the window
and let it out into liberation and death.
Instead I carefully drew the blind,
turned down the heating, and left.

When I returned a little later,
the butterfly was asleep again in its old position
next to the Zen master.
I was very happy.

Now when I look at the two of them together, I smile.
I know that all three of us are alive,
a small family sharing this little space,
until the great spring returns.

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