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Monkey Mind
Frederick W. Bassett

Heraclitus tells us we can't step
in the same river twice.
But what would he say about the same
river stepping in me twice?
It happened just this morning.
But wait! Years ago, I'm waist deep
in the Tallapoosa River on a starless night,
flashlight in one hand, rifle in the other,
wading across to Hester's Island.
On a rock above the swirling shoals,
a bobcat crouches, hidden,
until my roving spotlight shatters
the darkness between us.

Now about this morning. My monkey
mind is jumping all over the place.
High school football practice
in late August, helmets cracking,
boys groaning, retching in the grass.
A seminar on the Dead Sea Scrolls
at Emory University,
Emanuel Ben Dor's voice barking
the Hebrew, resurrecting
those ascetic Essenes, word by word.
Then my mind squats like a frog
in utter stillness. For What?
Certainly not the yogi's nothingness.

Out of the stillness, the Tallapoosa rises.
And there, enthroned above the roiling
river of my youth, that crouching bobcat
quickens yet again the blood of a boy
who once ran wild and unfettered.


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