Billy Collins wrote a poem
about shoveling snow with Buddha
and now, remembering the quiet camaraderie
of that poem, I wonder if Buddha would
help rake the leaves (more yellow than golden
now that they fill the yard instead of the maple trees)
I’d give him the good green metal rake
and offer to use the second-best, black plastic one
myself–the one that’s a little bit broken
with a huge crack in its center.
While we rake, I’d talk to Buddha—
not foolish enough to expect an answer
even if I were a Buddhist, nor to demand
he dispense wisdom on top of yard work.
I would just rake for a few hours, beneath
the wide sky, companioned by his calm
in my beloved once-familiar country.
I would just rake next to an ideal
of how to move through the world holding
Serenity like a calm saucer for the steady flame
which I Believe, I Believe,
burns in the center of each of us.
By Buddha’s example
I could learn how to live now
and where to search out wisdom—
Is it in poetry or conversation
Is it in news or protest marches
Is it in staying home
holding your beloveds close and
closing the door to the world
Is it in the storm of social media
where the bereaved and furious,
the shocked and scared
Congregate and Plan
You’re invited too—whoever you are,
come over and help Buddha and me
rake leaves and breathe
while we grapple with how to live here, now.