“Under the Bo Tree” by Mark Fitzpatrick

Mark Fitzpatrick


I bring you, Gautama, my empty hand,
which would have been full of figs
from a house that has never known death—
had there been one.
But there isn’t
so my palm is empty.
So I bring you, Gautama, my empty palm,
full of the days of my father’s house—
childhood books, summers staining the clothes green,
anxious to get out into that greater world
(convinced I would do better).
And then, later, the Fridays at Oaxaca Kitchen—
good beer, superb fajitas, the young
passing by, friends hilarious, everyone getting drunk,
my days full of useless work at a job,
the exhaustion found at my dusks,
the sweet ease of my sleep, my love of my bed,
blessed unconsciousness.
I bring you, Gautama, my open palm—
drop a blessing in it
so that I can touch the head of a bull
and ease its rage,
pat the head of a drunken monkey and say,
“I was where you are, my friend,”
or collect raindrops, my hand a bowl,
as we sit under the Bo tree,
just sitting, saying to the dissolving drops,
“You are my mind.”
An open palm to grab the days ahead,
take hold of what’s next,
open to sleep and a long work day
and the cycle of that worker’s life.
I bring you, Gautama, two hands, one heart,
one overused and, perhaps, useless mind—
human being, and human being only—
awaiting what’s next in a human being,
ready for more of what a human being is.

from Rattle #76, Summer 2022


Mark Fitzpatrick: “I write because I do. It’s like the Tao. As soon as you think you figured out what the Tao is, then you know nothing about the Tao. If I figure out why I write poetry, perhaps I won’t write it anymore.” (web)

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