email Date: Thu, 16 Mar 1995 18:50:09 From: Kenneth Atchley To: copyright 836w

[Jim, this is an in-progress version of white_iris. More updates as they seem appropriate to send. -K.]

white iris

small white chip down my throat

to the pleasure of green stems swollen to thickness

of your eyes reflect and emit passion and eagerness

of your strength; short limbs, trained muscles that

one hard kiss: tiny chip of tooth in the back of my throat:

one swallow: gone.

From thick sheath of green leaves; white blossoms into three


yellow sliver down the middle of each petal to the base faint

purple at the fringed edges.

Three photographs taken of iris:

first of green shoots, white closed taper to tips;

second of flowers at peak;

last of five stalks and flowers in plastic trash basket: blossoms withered, brown, some torn.

My altar consists of a small bronze Buddha in front of the photo-triptych of flowers, a bronze lotus incense burner, a green glass votive flickers: bud--blossom--bound-to-die--bud- -blossom--bound-to-die--bud--blossom--bound-to-die--aware of his surroundings, oblivious to (my imagined) designs (works of art) as to pulp of the wooden cabinet on which he sat

and meditated.

I sat on a stone bench beneath overhanging branches and watched a small, white-robed girl step carefully around devotees and through ranks of monks to approach the Buddha. The child stood inches away and looked at the quiet face. She leaned closer--almost touching--and examined the lord's heavy earrings and stretched ear lobes. Unhurriedly, she circled and scrutinized the Buddha's neck, shoulders, saffron robe, rope belt until she came upon his feet. Seated in a full lotus, the soles of the Buddha's bare feet were visible. The girl looked for a long time before pulling a folded sheaf of paper and piece of charcoal from a cloth bag carried over her slender shoulders. Slowly she sketched his feet.

After perhaps fifteen minutes a soft low chant rumbled from the monks and spread through the devotees. The girl continued to work with unbroken concentration.

At last she finished and refolded the paper. Buddha opened his eyes and spoke to her. She handed the drawing to him. He smiled as he examined it and twice pointed to a portion and nodded his head.

The Buddha rolled the paper and handed it to the girl. Then he tore a bit of cloth from the cuff of his robe and tied it around the roll.

The girl turned and walked back through the rows of monks and groups of disciples.

The Buddha lay on his side. He held a half-eaten mushroom in one hand.

His teeth fell like petals,

His flesh turned to dust,

His bones to meal,

The wind carried his orange robe about chest high into the air and blew it around the sparse trees and over fields.

As the girl passed, I asked to see the drawing. She removed the saffron ribbon and handed me the thin sheet. I removed my notebook and quickly made notes concerning the sketches.

Years later--during a drunken evening--my notebook was thrown out with the trash which was carried to the community dump. The following night I recalled what had happened to them; but, upon search of the dump found that they were gone. The following description is from my best recollection:

The drawing portrayed a diagram of the Buddha's feet.

The toe prints were shown as tight spirals.

The right foot bore eight symbols:

Beginning at the heel of the right foot was a lotus.

Up and counter-clockwise from that was a bow and string.

Above that were two banners: the upper banner contained a star and the lower one a solar disk.

Above the banners at the pad of the foot was a horn-shaped, crescent moon.

Across from that--below the smaller toes was an opened mouth fish.

Below the fish was the symbol of a Dorje a double ended scepter that represents limitless energy. Each head of the Dorje is like a four pronged claw.

I have forgotten the others.

Likewise, the left foot bore eight symbols:

Beginning with the heel was a representation of the deity, Avalokitesvara--the embodiment of limitless compassion. Known in Tibet as Chenresigs, this deity endlessly chants so that the voice of and call to compassion may be heard in every point and by every sentient being in the universe.

Above and to the left of Avalokitesvara burned the flaming sword of Manjusri.

And above the sword was the endless untieable knot which symbolized the confused and inextricable nature of material existence and conceptualization.

At the pad of the foot blazed the obscured sun.

The next symbol that I remembered was a six sided star placed on the arch.

Below the star was a swastika.

I finished my notes and returned the scroll. The girl was intently looking west. The robe was barely discernible in the distance. As it met the horizon the sky turned deep orange.

---------------- Kenneth Atchley 3.9-14.1995