Monday, 13 April 2009

apprenticeship by Kelly Shepherd

climb to the top
of the highest mountain you can see
tap where the shoulder would be
on every stone, stump,
every stunted tundra tree
roughly the size of a man

stay there, keep trying
until a weathered face turns towards you:
one of the boulders or small evergreens
will not be what it seems
and your questions will be answered

you will never come in from the cold
and the rain again
and your face will be dry, sunburnt,
chapped by the wind,
your clothing will fall away,
will be replaced by leaves, bark, skins, furs
you will move around less and less
requiring less food and drinking rainwater instead
over the years
you will start to resemble a stone
or a human-sized stump or tree

all that you will have learned
and all that you will have left behind
will become a poem, a song
barely distinguishable
from the songs of wind in the mountain pines
and there you will sit,
your face to the East
your mind in the sky
with the tops of the trees,
and under the ground with their roots...

someday, when you are old
and still enough
to be mistaken for a mossy stone
or a stunted tree
you might feel a tap on your shoulder


Kelly Shepherd, South Korea

2 comments:

Amulya Rajan said...

Love the imagery and the thought behind the poem.

Elizabeth M Rimmer said...

This reminds me of Wang Wei, who is my new enthusiasm. I love it.