The Powers Raised in Protest

A hand through the curtain, leather-gloved and feline.

“Stop!” cries a voice from the earth, the thirsty voice, the ardent.

The hand moves across the table, searching, moving among the treasures piled there carelessly.

“Stop!” cries a voice from the sky, the patient voice, the wistful.

Among the heaped jewels, the dented ingots, the rare books and fuller’s earth the hand finds a stone ring, a signet, scratched and dented. The seal on top is thick with wax but still the wheel is clear, the flower at the center.

“Stop!” cried a voice from the wood, the sorrowful voice, the grieved.

The fingers close on the ring and withdraw. Outside there is only darkness and thorns. A footstep? So suddenly gone, and the branches of the hedge do not tremble.

Beneath the flags of the courtyard the Buddha is dreaming, a smile on his face. “Stop,” he says, and his voice shakes the earth to stillness.

But the ring is gone, the table is empty now, and the light is again in the world. The old objection, the unending protest, come like a thief in the night, to spread from one and not another. Mysterious is the Buddha…