Treasure Island

Charles Wax


A True Child of the Buddha in Brooklyn


Mary McCall
one of my students
raped
in an abandoned building
her face
then set aflame
alive
but forever disfigured
no rest
from the nightmare
and when I lay down
couldn’t catch my breath
a fierce rumble of
torment—
Oh, the dear girl
pain
I couldn’t imagine.
“I wish I never knew.”
Then whimpered for a moment
but didn’t cry
mumbling, “I ought to cry.”
Then I tried to cry,
but could not.
“No soul left
in this tattered body, ” I moaned
and left the bed,
turned on the light
sat in the green chair
slowly following my breath
gradually rhythm soothed me
and soon began to muse
on the great matters
this entire experiment
of humanity
wouldn’t last more than a million years
if that long
a blip in the grand sweep
of time
measured in billions
and billions of years.
I inhaled deeply
and felt tingling in my arms and legs
beginning to taste Buddha’s great truth—
Not a thing exists
just the endless transformation of atoms
and a bit of joy entered me.
“No matter what happens
I’m lucky to have come across
his wisdom.”
Without warning
tears
Mary’s suffering
finally
real.

Submitted: Sunday, January 25, 2009

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