Irritate, how you irritate me!

Irritate, how you irritate me!
At four in the morning, my legs ache with you
my guts writhe with you.
And you’re not even here.
You’re just an image in my mind
and a voice endlessly whining and complaining
while I endlessly replay scenes real and imagined.
You are my Teacher
and I bow to you in gratitude.

Wrestle, how I wrestle with you!
Our prolonged struggle
forces smugness and complacency from my being.
I’m desperate to pin the whining and the ignorance
on you, over there, out there,
somewhere else, on a bad person.
But you force me to look within
and find you there
find me there.
I submit, I admit you.
You win, you win.
You are my Teacher
and I bow to you in gratitude.

Up my nose, how you get up my nose!
You probe away at my equanimity
and it cracks under the strain.
You test my compassion and find it wanting.
Your obsessive presence shatters
my self-satisfied self-image
and reveals my pettiness
in all its small-minded glory.
You are my Teacher
and I bow to you in gratitude.

Resist, how I resist your lessons!
You, and all the other irritating Teachers I dislike
waiting out there to bring the next lesson
exposing what I need to see
challenging me to face up to the truth.
All available, any time, all free,
all perfectly attuned to my weaknesses.
I bow to you in gratitude.

This poem and the next three are a selection of poems I read out at a Buddhist family retreat I taught at in Dorset recently. This one is especially for Liz, who liked it so much!


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