The rocks are impermanent, too


Wednesday evening when we were writing death poems at our zen center, there was another person who was exploring the metaphor of rivers and rocks in her poem. Only this person emphasized the erosion of the rock as the water rushed over it. I’ve been thinking about her poem since I wrote yesterday’s blog post. It makes me realize that even the rocks are impermanent. They only appear still at the bottom of the river, but this is merely and illusion. The reality is that they are changing and becoming different with the rush of the river’s current.

A death poem for the new year


The glass slips out of my grasping hands.


A thousand suns glisten on my kitchen floor.


The death poem isĀ a tradition in Zen Buddhism. Our sangha writes one at the new year every year as a way to reflect on the past year. I believe the tradition is that Buddhist monks wrote them on their death beds, but that might be more romanticism than truth. I like the idea of thinking of the putting away of the old year as a kind of death, and thinking about the new year as a rebirth.

You can read my past death poems here, and our sangha’s poems here.