Orchid Mind

"True knowledge can be only attained when sought for its own sake, not for the gaining of wealth, power, or renown..."

Khyongla Rato Rinpoche

Once a year the Tan Hua blooms at night,
water lily-shaped with spider orchid limb

spiraling in darkness, an elusive single flower
on succulent stem. Intoxicated by its scent, seekers

stay up late, change their morning scowls into patient
wait, and when the petals unfurl, sigh with delight.

Before dawn, a last wistful look then a drowned sleep.
The next day, distractions flood faces, frowns return.

Last night's delight - a white droop on a branch -
lays discarded in a bin. So fleeting, the search for beauty.

In the mind's eye, the lamas arrive on a milk cloud
from the Hundred Deities of the Land of Joy,

garlands of tuberose and marigold fly up to the cosmos,
heavenly beings sing with upward curved lips, reciting

sheaves of sacred verse. Words ripple to the sensitive ones,
rain of voices through ether. Here liquid truths melt

into willing ears - or drop as flash shower - short flood
not absorbed - though cleansed, soot appears again.

For some, words act adorn fancy dress patterns.
For others, words suture life-worn fabric.

The mind flashes through the day, and recalls
the Tan Hua flower, at peak intensity. Through choice

the flower can wilt again and again,
or remain in bloom, open-eyed.

Annie Bien

If you've any comment on this poem, Annie Bien would be pleased to hear from you.