Ryokan Revisited

New poetry by Benedictine nun, Mary Lou Kownacki echoes the koans of the nineteenth century Zen monk.

Mary Lou Kownacki

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TWO POEMS FOR MY FRIEND BOSAI 

Yes, I truly a dance
Living among trees and plants
Please don't question me about illusion
    and enlightenment—
This old fellow just likes to smile to himself.
I wade across streams with bony legs,
And carry a bag about in fine spring
weather.
That’s my life,
And the world owes me nothing.

The gaudy beauty of this world has no
    attraction for me—
My closest friends are mountains and rivers,
Clouds swallow up my shadow as I
    walk along,
When I sit on cliffs, birds soar overhead.
Wearing snowy straw sandals, I visit
    cold villages.
Go as deep as you can into life,
And you will be able to let go of even
blossoms.

—Ryokan

A POEM FOR MY FRIEND

What I see in the mirror is not who I am.

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