The Botanist Tzu

April 29, 2016

For her want of tears, the woman runs
across the courtyard and into the arms
of the botanist Tzu. The songs in her head
are not unlike the songs in her heart.
Maybe they come from a deep seed planted
in soil far more fecund than rain can bear.
Maybe the spring monsters will surround them.
Maybe they come from a deep seated distrust
of all our visions. Perhaps collapse,
thinks the botanist Tzu. Perhaps failure.
But the woman clings to his sleeves in silence.
Her breath weaves in and out of a narrow cage.
Perhaps she is unlike the other one, he thinks.
With no bird singing, the garden is yet more full.[1]

 

 

 

[1] Adapted from an epigram to Thomas Merton’s Zen and the Birds of Appetite. Thomas Merton attributes it to a ‘Zen saying’.  Merton’s version says this: With no bird singing/ The mountain is yet more still.

Grammar check reminds that my last line should read ‘fuller’

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One Response to “The Botanist Tzu”

  1. Thomas Davis Says:

    I like the drawing and the poem. The poem is another lyric, of course. I am just delighted that the last series have all been lyrics. Still, this is, as usual, an ExtraSimilie poem, which is to say that you cannot always trust the lyric surface.
    There are just some beautiful lines:
    “. . .The songs in her head
    are not unlike the songs in her heart.”
    “Her breath weaves in and out of a narrow cage.”
    But there is always the spear of language when Jim writes: “Maybe the spring monsters will surround them.” “Maybe they come from a deep seated distrust/of all our visions.”
    This seems to suggest that the songs in her head,
    “Maybe they come from a deep seed planted
    in soil far more fecund than rain can bear.”
    are not the lyric that the poem seems to bear with such grace on its surface. There is tragedy here,
    “. . .Perhaps collapse,
    thinks the botanist Tzu. Perhaps failure.”
    But then Tzu’s further thought:
    “Perhaps she is unlike the other one, he thinks.”
    Who is the other one? There is a want of tears. Then the woman runs into the arms of Tzu. In the end this is a love lyric:
    With no bird singing, the garden is yet more full.[1]
    But there is also an untold story that the reader is forced to conjure from the details given, the running, the courtyard, the spring monsters, distrust of visions, the woman clinging to Tzu’s sleeves, another woman (probably a disappointment from Tzu’s past life).
    What a delicious labyrinth is woven here. Oh, but my head is spinning, and it is spring.


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