Never Without a Trace

Never Without a Trace

Standing by the river that has carried me this far,
its course passing far beyond my own horizon,
I think of how little my life has played in its grand scale.

Coming, going, the waterbirds don’t leave a trace.
Or so I thought of life, my own being complete
and having little to show for my passing.

But then, looking down on its sandy shore,
I saw the tracks of a heron’s path and thought
of the child I once held, the fruit of my loins

traveling along that same river on a course
far ahead of my own, yet echoing my own,
one of many that fill the river to its banks.

The prompt for Poetics: Stepping Off the Sidewalk, from Laura at dVerse ~ Poets Pub is to use one of eight given fragments from the mystic poets in a poem. I have used “Coming, going, the waterbirds don’t leave a trace,” a line attributed to Dōgen, a 13th Century Japanese Buddhist monk.

Image source: Minneapolis Institute of Art
~ Heron on Branch, by Ohara Shōson ~
(click image/larger view/new tab)

64 thoughts on “Never Without a Trace

  1. The waterbirds don’t leave a trace but, I think we as humans do leave traces of ourselves here on earth.
    I feel the journey is about expanding our thoughts with grace and peace. The river of thought has found you.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I was going to choose that line but went for a different one. I love where Dōgen’s words led you. Astonishing to think that words from the thirteenth century still resonate with us. I love the idea of a river carrying us far beyond our horizon, Ken, and the comparison with waterbirds. The lines in your poem that resonate with me are:
    ‘I saw the tracks of a heron’s path and thought
    of the child I once held, the fruit of my loins
    traveling along that same river’.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your last stanza speaks volumes, Ken!
    “traveling along that same river on a course
    far ahead of my own, yet echoing my own,
    one of many that fill the river to its banks.”

    An intriguing and magical piece, indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

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