as though sleep were another country, its agents waiting
to see a passport stamped with dream destinations.
Getting to sleep is one thing, waking up another.
The Buddha, after everything, woke up, and sketched out
a map for awakeners to follow. Even the fish
under glass, underfoot, fish nobody eats even though
they inhabit a restaurant's garden pond, even these
have a chance at waking up, assuming they ever sleep.
The monkey mind fishes around for ladders to climb,
knobs and vines to grasp, to keep going, to never stop,
keeping you awake when you'd rather nap. The Buddha
was a scientist of self, his first experimental subject
his own mirror, discerning in his meditations how to winnow
what works from what doesn't. Having awakened, the same
old stuff. Hard to tell the difference. The way to sleep
is also the middle way, between endless monkey chitter
and the deadness of sleep-inducing drugs. Mostly, I just sit,
not pretending to do more than that. It's enough.
Eventually the clatter fades, even those distant voices
at the end of the row, heard as human hum, with no content.
Like the backlit silhouette of a naked youth emerging
from sparkling sea-glint, gender indeterminate, ambiguous,
recognizably human, that's enough. Clothes make the man
even when the man's not a man, but someone other.
Emerging, are you a boy, are you a girl, and should it matter?
That's just another tin mental box to emerge from.
Buddha's monkey doesn't care; a hole's a hole.
Waking in the morning with the unknown sleeper sharing
your pillow, a dream that pops like those cartoon
thought-bubbles the instant you both awaken. A quick
meeting of eyes before both vanish to their separate days,
or wherever waking leads you.