"The smell of the sea hugged the fog in the redwood trees,
All cool and dank, dimly lit and rank with green,
And in shadowed limbs the Stellar jays jabbered free,
And me, standing silently, an alien in this enchanted scene.
From behind the mossy grey stumps
the sounds of footsteps crunching fronds of ferns
caught my suddenly wary mind ...
"Hello, old friend," said Chang San Feng.
"Master Chang, what a surprise," said I.
Master Chang sat on a stump, smiled, and said,
"Can you hear the Blue Dragon singing in the decaying tree;
Or is it the White Tiger roaring in the wilderness of your bright white skull?
No matter! The answer is in the questioning; don't you Chan men see?
In the red ball flesh of this decaying tree
Sapless woody shards of centuries of seasons
Nourish the new roots of mindfulness sprouting.
Yes, Yes, but how can it be?
The up-surging waves of life sprout forth from the decaying tree,
As sure as sunrise rolling over the deep black sea.
Coming, coming, endlessly coming; waves of Chi.
Tan Qian's raven roosts for 10,000 moons
in the withered branches of the rotting tree;
then, one day, the weathered tree falls,
nobody hearing, soundlessly crashing
on the forest floor, on some unknown noon.
Over and over, over and over, life bringing death, death bringing life,
Beyond even the miraculous memories of an old Xian like me;
Watching, watching, sequestered from the strife,
Turning my soul away sometimes because I cannot bear to see.
Even minds may die, but Mind is always free
Bounding beyond, beyond, far beyond you and me;
Somehow finding the Possibility Keys
And unlocking the Door out of the Voids of Eternities."
Master Chang somehow, someway,
slowly disappeared into the red brown heart of the decaying tree.
Then the squawk of the jay
opened my mind's eye to the new day -
- Michael P. Garofalo
Meetings with Master Chang San Feng
Remembering Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, California, 2012