Two Poems from the Abbey
By Miranda Arocha Smith
It is dance: the space between footsteps as I walk slowly to the shrine room.
Heel-toe, heel-toe, prickle of red carpet. (Maybe it’s a little romantic.)
A raindrop finds my shoulder, striking like flint against a tender heart. Weather of pauses. Giving up. A cool dot of rain on the cheek.
Practice of waiting. Each morning at 5:45, I stand in line outside the shrine room, hands held warm, already waiting for my breath, like looking steadily for fireflies: one, two, three.
At breakfast, the journey between fingertips and the pearly, sticky skin of hard-boiled egg.
Meditation: a leash around the neck of a wild, raging elephant. Notice the gaps, remind the monastics. They say this often, like a melody played by different instruments.
Gaps in thought. With practice, they’ll get bigger, and will arrive more often.
Thinking slows. The mind is a pool of water with rainbow-hued stones.
Note the gaps, but let them go, move on: an endless garage sale of the mind.
Enlightenment: to experience the texture of life fully. Sip of tea, hot, dazzles the tongue. The band of ache under a shoulder blade.
Rasp of toast along the knife blade. Wrist bone pushes beneath the skin like a small planet.
Watch and wait by the window before the first gong, rain streaking the glass on
a gray-black morning. To wake from the daze.
One night, I run soap over my arm, notice that I’m not actually cleaning. Water runs, hot, but I barely feel it. Is showering a skill I can become better at? I wonder.
My years of unconscious showers. Will the choreography of a shower change when I shave my head? Mindfulness will begin to dog you.
I try to run the washcloth over my skin like I peel my egg, like I follow my feet, like I sense my breath slipping.
Miranda Arocha Smith, MTS ’15, also has an MFA in creative writing from the University of Texas at El Paso. She is a doctoral student in Buddhist studies at Northwestern University.