The Hunter

Een gedicht van een Sangha-vriend uit Plum Village

At the earliest of hours I awake and don my gear.
The forest is ancient, its trees tall;
dangers and wonders await.

Walk silently! Be vigilant!
For the catch may pass unnoticed
or a beast may spring upon you from the shadows.

I have seen pictures, heard stories of excitement and success.
But here in morning’s frigid air, among thick branches rattling in the wind,
it is my senses, not my memory, that are put to the test.

Be patient! Be ready!
For the catch may pass unnoticed
or a beast may spring upon you from the shadows.

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Image: Pilar Schneider

It would be enough to down a single sensual desire –
at times great flocks, large as winter clouds, cover the sky.
Oh, but how I dream of catching pride –
its eyes still glaring with determination,
its quick legs with lethal claws still poised for the kill.
Great, majestic insecurity would also be a formidable catch –
although its slow and heavy carcass would be a tiresome victory!

Even a few buzzing specimens of distraction warrant appreciation –
how persistent, how intricate the colored lines that cover their small, winged bodies!

The hunt, however, also promises sweeter game:
long blades of thanksgiving, freshly cut, exude a marvelous perfume.
Or the bright petals of compassion growing on thick stems of understanding,
and the soft skin of ripe gentleness, ready to be picked from the branches of faith.

Be still! Be alert!
For the catch may pass unnoticed
or a beast may spring upon you from the shadows.

To capture even the rhythm of these living lungs in the crisp morning air
requires readiness and agility.

But by far the greatest prize
is to enter the forest unarmed
and to return empty-handed.

– Bar Zecharya

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