Forgive me, Lord, this broken drum speaks
In a unworthy voice — now true, now untrue.
Sift truth from the lies if truth there is,
Else spill me in the dust.
My quest is the quest of a one-eyed man
Whose vision oft deceives him;
He depends on his poor eye not because he trusts it,
But because people who offered to lead and show him the way
Did not earn his trust.
Dimly-remembered voices from a past
So distant that it is doubtful
Whether it existed at all
Echo in my skull
Disturbances in a cave of unknown depth.
With the tips of my mind I seek out the cracks
Between wakefulness and sleep
Where I hear these voices loudest,
And glimpse faces that I recognize –
Faces not of those living
Nor of the dead I know.
Fleetingly with forceful gestures they speak.
Seeking to grasp their words, I awaken
Only to find my awakening empty
Bereft of the meaning of what I saw and heard.
Something I knew and trusted was lost
And so I grope at the cracks in the walls of my life, furtively
Hoping by happy chance to find it.
But my groping is subdued by the need to preserve
That civilized veneer that keeps my life from coming unwound
And keeps me from becoming entirely mad
Or… who knows…
If my prayer were true, Lord, methinks I could force your hand.
I struggle to remember a forgotten prayer
That would make two halves of me clap whole again.
Remember me, my Lord. Look at me:
I am the monk who was sent out
And did not return.
I am the doubting monk
Who questioned everything and took nothing on faith.
I am the one who cried that the monastery had nothing of value
That the rest of the world did not have.
I am the monk who wanted the love of woman and child
And the care of a parent, and the worries of a man in the world.
I am the monk who lusted,
The monk who dishonored the sacred cloth
Who blasphemed and asked with arrogance
To be cast out… and yet was not.
Alone, unloved, despised was I and
The Truth that I clung to
Was a lonely Truth
That seemed like blasphemy.
They loved the Truth, they said.
Well, the Truth they loved was
Not my Truth
And I was sworn to embrace and cleave to my Truth, not theirs.
Forgive me, Lord, my arrogance
And if I am untrue, spill me.
Names that I awoke with one morning long, long ago,
Knowing that they belonged to me…
Why did I ask then to be addressed with these names?
And why does something rise from within,
Seeking to wrap a cloth over my shoulders
Seeking to seduce me to become… a monk?
Is that part of me calling? Or is there something else?
No, surely the way of the bhikshu is not my path.
My lust, passion, temper, vehemence, love…
They forbid monkhood.
No, I cannot be whole if I make myself half-man again.
No, my Lord, but maybe there is something that I swore
Something I forgot in the midst of the varied seasons of life
Something without which, no matter how good it all gets
All of it is of doubtful worth.