Five Points, Vol. 8 No. 2

Spring 2004

From Hayden Carruth, “I preferred independence, and I emphasized that in my poetry, in my prose too, I think, and in my life.”

Sample Content

Billy Collins
Why I Could Never Be a Buddhist

“All that exists is the movement of the breathing.”
— Shunryu Suzuki

I wake up early and lie uncovered
on the summer bed
staring at the white closet doors,
listening to the hum of the fan
which has drawn in the cooler night air—
your ghost-form next to me
wrapped tightly in a sheet.

I would love to be as empty
as the rice bowls of the dead,
but the squirrel on the hickory tree outside
with a nut in his mouth,
reminds me of the need to save,
and the mirror on the wall
containing a small oval edition of this room—
is a medieval warning against vanity.

I hear the faint hum of a plane
and picture a woman in the window seat
crossing her legs and opening a magazine,

then I think of the Wright Brothers,
who never married,
working in their bicycle shop,
spoked wheels hanging from nails in the walls.

Even the sight of my own feet,
crossed on the bed,
reminds me of the sinewy feet of the saints
that I used to kneel before as a boy—
the feet of St. Bartholomew,
the feet of St. Anthony of the Desert,
braided with muscle,
the feet of St. Sebastian pierced with arrows,
and the benevolent feet of St. Francis,
who in one painting
is leaning back in rapture
outside the mouth of a cave
while behind him an iconographic rabbit
peeps out of a stone wall,
a little symbol of God knows what.