You are storied:

Pulling the iron plough, sign of service

and constant labor. No wonder you stand

near the child in the manger, warming his cheeks

with your breath. Where, after all, might salvation

be found if not in the company of creatures

who know what it means to bear the yoke

of time? India, even now, calls you sacred:

your feminine form, giver of the milk

of life. You hold still deeper mystery

for Zen monks, for whom all aspirants

are oxherders. The road begins when it is realized

you’re lost; the power that’s borne and fed us

no longer by our side. Then commences

spiritual adventure: tracking, catching,

and tending whatever it is you are (Mother;

Other; the huge force of Nature

instinct in our blood) until, finally,

you allow yourself to be ridden home

and hidden, like that child, in the inmost

stall of the soul, the one wherein poor straw

turns into gold.


© Daniel Polikoff