Thursday, July 21, 2011

"Rise, rise, upward rise" (1989)


"Why does Bodhidharma have no beard?"

A koan given by the head abbott
to her pupil.
She restrains one thought:
"...but he has a beard!"

It is there, yes,
history (& pictures)
tell us:
wore a beard.

He was... a man,
a bearded man.
(There are no pictures of him without beard,
that I know of. His beard is quite obviously

Men, if we follow
the syllogism, wear
beards. (Or grow them?)
(Or have them?) What's
the correct way of calling it,
when a beard comes into being?
At what point does stubble change
into a beard?

[What does it mean, the Austrian would say,
to wear, or to grow, or to have a beard?]

(Wasn't he though? But a man? A man is a man is a man is a man
by virtue of his beard? Can't a woman or a dwarf have a beard?
Or a bear, or a lion, or a dragon, or a tax collector, or a chimp?
What are they, actually, the hairs of a beard? What means it
to have a beard or not to have/wear/grow a beard?
Is it the difference, if there is any, between
life and death?) Hairs keep growing
my mother told me once
even after you die.

Hair is also: the ripeness of age. Continuance
of the body, or the ripeness of the body to
generate other bodies, in friction with other
bodies. Hair.

Gautama Siddartha is the name of a man
who once lived, it does not matter when,
because he was the 1st to die.

Virile men, strong men, are said to have beards.
Women in the 1980s know this, & believe this.
Beards were in vogue, in the 1980s, and elsewhere
I'm sure.


But she is sent off into the world
to seek an answer.

Another pupil, wayward
and sensual, doesn't give a damn.

Because "an immature Buddha
is already grown inside her" she
is sent out to the world
to seek a question.

She, the wayward cloud,
hasn't reached the age for koans,
nor has she mastered the simplest injunction:

when he comes knocking at your gate
with heated hands, and despair in his eyes,
you answer him with all the noise
of your silence.*

(*Manhae: The Silence of my Love.)