Errol Hess

Legless Zen Master

Which is the higher consciousness--
mine all run to words and ideas or yours
concentrated on the mines of your being?

Whose is the brighter in this early May sun
mine piling wagon after wagonload
of trash for the dump, absorbing warmth as I work,

or yours that I disturb from your weed-hid sunning?
I lift an old plank from the fallen outhouse
and there you are, not dull or hostile,

copperhead, eye slits glistening curious:
me curious, too, cautious; I know
what you are capable of better than you know me.

I pick up trash all around you,
one last heaping load till the backdoor dump is clean,
then tow it slow with this borrowed tractor

down the creek to the road to the dumpster, then unload it,
pitching off one piece at a time. There you are again
under the last rusty scrap of tin I lift.

Copyright 1996, Errol Hess

Errol Hess is a founding editor of Sow's Ear Poetry Review and editor of Poetry
Web, an on-line juried magazine and poetry discussion group. Publication credits
include National Public Radio's All Things Considered, Madison Review, Tennessee
State Bicentennial literary book, Homeworks. His children's story, "Joey Learns to
Fly," was made into an award-winning animated film.