Wednesday, September 11, 2013

No Path

There is No Path that Goes all the Way 
Han Shan

Not that it stops us looking
for the full continuation.

The one line in the poem
we can start and follow

straight to the end.  The fixed belief
we can hold, facing a stranger

that saves us the trouble 
of a real conversation.

But one day you are not
just imagining an empty chair

where your loved one sat.
You are not just telling a story

where the bridge is down
and there's nowhere to cross.

You are not just trying to pray
to a God you imagined
would keep you safe.

No, you've come to the place
where nothing you've done

will impress and nothing you 
can promise will avert

the silent confrontation.
The place where

your body already seems to know
the way, having kept

to the last, its own secret

But still, there is no path
that goes all the way,

one conversation leads 
to another, 

one breath to the next

there's no breath at all, 

the inevitable 
final release
of the  burden.

And then, 
wouldn't your life
have to start 
all over again
for you to know
even a little 
of who you had been? 

David Whyte