Memo from Siddhartha

by Mark Terrill

If you can navigate the subway station in HamburgAltona
climb the stairs and walk through the train station
among the infinite flux of faces and figures
in that arbitrary barrage of citizens
rushing through the earlymorning hustle and bustle
and come out on the other side still feeling good about it all
with your compassion for humanity still intact
then you don’t even need to read The Flower Garland Sutra
and can go into the park and sit on a bench
like Antoine Roquentin in Sartre’s Nausea
staring at the gnarly roots of a chestnut tree
where they disappear into the earth
and for each and every lack of meaning
there will suddenly be a new word in a new language
in which you are completely and totally fluent
and something like gratitude will well up in your throat
as sweet as the nectar going down the gullet
of that redandgreenshimmering hummingbird
hovering in midair over there by those bright pink flowers
finely dusted with carbon particles from the diesel exhaust
of the trains and busses and other rumbling traffic
just on the other side of the ivycovered wall
which separates you from not a single other thing.