When it occurred to me I would be leaving
the Zen monastery earlier
than I’d planned, a lot
earlier because the sitting made me
depressed and the food came
too seldom and though the deer out in the field
each morning were
lovely, I couldn’t seem to write, I was so
tired all the time — I went to
Daido Sensei, who had given many
talks that impressed and
cowed me, dharma talks about not
resisting anything but about blending,
wholly, even
with one’s resistance and about watching the aimless
pander and meandering of one’s thoughts
and seeing, finally,
maybe after years, that they were
nothing. I went to him to say I thought I might
be leaving, and he encouraged me
to stay, although I was fairly shooting
off my zafu and back into
the world. He said this was part of
the practice. He said the good work
had just begun and it would help me, and so did
everybody else in the sangha who heard I
maybe wanted to leave. They said it would be
good for me to stay especially if
that was how I was feeling, but I
knew I had to go. It was in leaving
that I began to join with
myself. Although it was hard,
I was never sorry — not then
and not now.

(Then again, no one there loved me or
cried; that might have been different.) Still,
if I could do over all
those times you came to me saying
some version of some words about
me — although it wasn’t me
you were leaving, you said, but something
you had to find — instead
of the letters and the long love-
making, instead
of the talk and returning and tears
and how I told you
these hard times were a curtain
over the future, our
sculpture: passionate, wonderfully
hewn, and bright — instead
I would say what Daido
didn’t say to me then, which wouldn’t have
kept me but might have
enlightened me on the spot — I’d say, Goodbye.