A haggard old man sits cross-legged
beneath a black willow tree beside the river,
focused only on breathing,
mumbling his mantra—accept what is
trying to count one hundred breaths,
but never succeeding,
losing track of numbers and starting over.
Caught between two levels of awareness—
a glimpse into nirvana
and a black willow tree beside the river.
A fierce snow leopard springs
from the brushwood and charges,
but just before bashing the old man,
it morphs into a snowy owl and swoops
inches from the feeble, nodding white head.
Then it lifts and races skyward,
evaporating into a Strawberry Moon.
The haggard old man still sits cross-legged,
motionless, counting his breaths,
but never reaching a hundred.