The pattern made by what falls through
the careful construction
delineating false from true
as simply as red from blue
some spaces inside, some out
some realms hell,
yet all the same sand.
measuring pigment and silica
in proper proportion,
the perfection of straight lines,
born of decades of practice,
all the possible precision
of a truly focused mind.
Hours tap, tap, tapping a single image,
bright mandala a few feet wide,
sometimes years carefully offered
to this immaculate collection of particles
telling one part of the divine story.
When it’s complete,
every grain in its place,
the breath and prayer of each monk arranged
as so much color and imagery:
a brush of sleeve,
a rush of eager wind,
and it is gone,
never to be seen in such way again.
Offerings made not for the glory of human eyes.
Not for consumption and rapturous cries
of the hungry hordes.
Not to fill the emptiness,
Nor ease the longing.
Knowledge never to be known,
seeds held in futures sown,
a fleeting fragrance, dance of effulgence,
to intimate and celebrate humanity’s greatest, wisest enemy:
How, after years of creation,
refinement, prayed for alignment, gracious inspiration,
to say “my life, my art, my identity,
is as complete as it can be,”
and let it go completely,
to take up new colors and a new form?
To hold so lightly something given such attention,
sweat and blood and tears to come this far
the grieving of each lost star,
and everything between the original wish,
How to say “I am not anything I have ever made, I am akin to the Maker:
I have but one slate in this life.”
And wipe it clean.
To stop running from impermanence,
doggedly tapping a mark upon the world,
clinging to the false hope of meaning
the potential fulfillment of longing.
Building a castle of sand,
when no matter how we try,
the tide will rise
the leaves will fall
and only a spiral
of compressed colored carbon
Why make an enemy
of the inevitable end of all striving,
when it could be our best inspiring?
Pride and yearning notwithstanding,
beyond my desire to give nourishment and meaning
perhaps I can learn from those monks.
Offer my art to the tempestuous ocean,
to the wild quiet of bubbling mountain streams,
and let it be carried away:
Grains of sand melting into nothingness
dissolving on the water’s surface,
until all is lost, and found, and fallen through.