In the Stream

Two monks, a Hindu and a Zen, came to a stream. The Hindu started to walk on the water. The Zen cried out: Come back! Come back! That is not the way to cross a stream.

— Zen story

Saffron-wrapped, swathed in white gauze, we two
pursue the pine-needle path of no path. We are here.
We may never arrive. Perhaps we have passed.
The stream glitters like amber, like jade,
like pieces of water. Persimmon fish
tremble and rush, nervous and easy as God.
Friend, it can be done: advancing on crystals
lo! we are over — our robes spectacular,
dry as jewels.
But knowing water, choose the liquid way.
Seeking God, wade into the water:
our skirts bell out, go heavy and coarse
as rice, the cold brushes our skin
with characters; wet, literal — we are crossing.