the inner alchemy of fish
A fisherman will tell you that to know a fish
you have to think like one. The river becomes
a kind of religion and the fish are the wise ones.
To think like a fish you have to know the water
in which the fish swims. You must learn to think
wet thoughts, learn to distinguish the taste of reeds
and the depth a turtle dives by night. Be able
to tell the change of seasons by the smell of the river.
So in the morning, come, make simple offerings of fireflies and
river foam upon altars of fallen trees and tangled roots.
Learn to wear the shadow as your shaman’s cloak, Dance
the sacred dance along the tops of boulders in dappled light.
Do your daily pujas along the river bank. Breathe in and out.
Take in the early light and the fog that clings along the river’s bend.
Like the heron stand stock-still and listen.
And as the partridge hiding in the underbrush –
seek refuge in this sacred place.
In time you will become familiar with the sutras of the eddies
the unwavering power and message of the undertow
and the gentle gospel of the shallows. You will learn
the patience of a sandbar were currents meet inertia,
become strong and unwavering like a ford were resistance
breaks the raging water into harmless pools of froth and foam.
The muezzin call of the osprey will call you, again and again,
to prayer. The river will teach you the esoteric mysteries
of fish, and the fish in turn will teach you how to swim
in the sacredness of water. Teach you its inner alchemy
to transform a raging heart into a peaceful backwater.
It will teach you the nature of momentum and the epistles
of impermanence. Not just by observation but by Nature’s sheer force.
You will be taught that the river, at any moment, can take you
and sweep you off your feet.
And in your rough baptism of humility and respect you will learn
the basic truths of water and of life’s fluid simplicity.
And like a doe on the river bank; bow in reverence
to its glory, drink the teachings the river has to offer
and understand the never ending flow of everything.
~ c.m. brooks, 2012
I keep thinking about the river guy who piled
up stones. Or sometimes he was the desert guy,
piling up stones. Maybe even in a field, if a
field has stones. A guy who piles up stones.
Who piles up stuff from the stuff around, who
he himself is made of stuff. The stuff is so
mixed with the stuff that it’s hard to tell if
the stuff is moving the stuff, or if the stuff
is moving the stuff.
. . .