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Zanzen on Ching-t’ing Mountain

Li Po (translation by Sam Hamill)
The birds have vanished down the sky.
Now the last cloud drains away.

We sit together, the mountain and me,
until only the mountain remains.
Professor, UW-Milwaukee. Wisconsin Poet Laureate, 2015-16
Why I chose this poem: 

The sense of this poem suggests our belonging to something larger than the "I" of ego, an understanding I try to nurture in myself and, through my own poetry, nurture in others. We have all had those transformational or ecstatic experiences when the "me"  has disappeared, when for a moment we are lifted out of ordinary realms like time. Although Li Po's poem alludes to zazen meditation, it also shows a speaker centered in and connecting with nature.  In our "social isolation" we might find good company in the beings of the natural world.

Kimberly Blaeser, writer, photographer, and scholar, served as Wisconsin Poet Laureate for 2015-16. She is a Professor of English and Indigenous Studies at the University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee and an MFA faculty member for the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe. The author of four collections of poetry, most recently Copper Yearning and Apprenticed to Justice, Blaeser is Anishinaabe, an enrolled member of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, and grew up on White Earth Reservation. A bi-lingual French/English collection of her poetry, Résister en dansee/Dancing Resistance will be published by Éditions des Lisières in 2020.

Midnight Flute