A double line of meditators sits on mats, each one a human triangle. Evacuate your mind of clutter now. I do my best, squeezing the static and the agony into a straight flat line, but soon it soars and dips until my mind’s activity looks (you can take the girl...) uncannily like the Manhattan skyline. Observe your thoughts, then gently let them go. I’m watching them all right, unruly dots I not only can’t part from but can’t help transforming into restless bodies -- they’re no sooner being thought than sprouting limbs, no longer motionless but striding proudly, beautiful mental jukeboxes that play their litanies of joy and woe each day beneath the shadow of enormous buildings. Desires are your jailers; set them free and roam the hills, smiling archaically. It’s not a pretty picture, me amid high alpine regions in my urban black, huffing and puffing in the mountain air and saying to myself, I’m trying but it’s hopeless; though the tortures of the damned make waking difficult, they are my tortures; I want them raucous and I want them near, like howling pets I nonetheless adore and holler adamant instructions to— sprint, mad ambition! scavenge, hopeless love that begs requital! —on our evening stroll down Broadway and up West End Avenue.
The park admits the wind,
the petals lift and scatter
like versions of myself I was on the verge
of becoming; and ten years on
and ten blocks down I still can’t tell
whether this dispersal resembles
a fist unclenching or waving goodbye.
But the petals scatter faster,
seeking the rose, the cigarette vendor,
and at least I’ve got by pumping heart
some rules of conduct: refuse to choose
between turning pages and turning heads
though the stubborn dine alone. Get over
“getting over”: dark clouds don’t fade
but drift with ever deeper colors.
Give up on rooted happiness
(the stolid trees on fire!) and sweet reprieve
(a poor park but my own) will follow.
There is still a chance the empty gazebo
will draw crowds from the greater world.
And meanwhile, meanwhile’s far from nothing:
the humming moment, the rustle of cherry trees.