desert land question - August 17, 2014s

author’s note:

“Exploring the silence gives poetic thought birth.”
               — Pao Hsien  (trans. Hansen)


As the story goes…

when our ancestors sensed mystery
within a tree or river
or mountain
or creature
they felt compelled to talk to it

and so begin to drum.

Whatever sound echoed back
become the name
of that bounder, beast or shrub.

But after all the many things
had been named
one big mystery remained—

a mystery without any certain location:

a mystery everywhere…simultaneously

a mystery felt, but not seen.

This final mystery would not
answer our ancestors
no matter how they implored
so they set down their drums

and in the ensuing quiet
the silent mystery resounded
through a world ineffable…

the sensation so overwhelming
our ancestors soon returned
to their drumming for distraction

even so, ever so often
our ancestors felt the need
to stop…to listen…

until they again became overwhelmed.

Now I feel need to stop
because I sense something missing—
I’m trying to regress:
to rid myself of all these names
I’ve accumulated.

If I can, maybe I can
shut up long enough
to hear the roar
of that silent mystery

and again be flooded
by a feeling saturating
all the earth and sky
of this unknown land.

© 2014, Michael R. Patton
searching for the new mythology