puzzle piece 74

Tea Garden

(23-24 August 1980)

How is it done, I ask myself. I try to get a sense from the couples who promenade by me. I have wandered alone into the Japanese Tea Garden. Here is the Buddha, a great bronze human. Someone has put a white carnation between the metal fingers of his open hand: plucked from the life, for that life. Three little children squirm and giggle to be photographed before him, but their grandfather will not do it—it is not in the proper light. For everywhere else here, ennui is excused by the grace and satisfaction of being two, loved and lover. A woman speaks and her man replies—an obvious case—both speak the same exotic language. Here is another—blue jeans and slouches. It is easy to see they were made for each other. They both feign the same disinterest in what they have come here to see. Or perhaps they are sincere. O life. Where can the poet turn in the world and not see the difficulties, the lessenings, the blindnesses from which he feels he has had to free himself? Where?—Maybe in nature, although here is a squirrel who, quick, tempts its instincts to survive on handouts. The garden is a woman, carefully groomed. She will give for everything she’s given, but unfortunately she does not speak a human language. In this is the great sadness of the Romantic poets. Man alone in it, singing first in wonder and then in rage. In me wonder and rage mingle as I watch the couples who talk of this and that. Both wonder and rage, by their inexpressibilities, make me quiet. What may I say to give them away? What may I give to a woman to make her mine? I have begun to remember a person is not to be “made.” I must simply speak and in my speaking trust someone will come who will understand, if that is the way of the world. First there is a sense of what is to be understood. First, there is an integrity—to speak my own language, a kind of truth. First there is the sense the world is not necessarily the way it seems. Only the seeming is. And here I am a part of it to make of it what I may. If the Buddha smiles he smiles also on those who disrespect his smile, unknowing and knowing.