Laura Rosenthal

Bored Elements —After Robert Bly’s Bored Elephants in the Circus Stable Robert Bly wrote “Bored Elephants” but I read it as “Bored Elements,” leading me to speculateabout—what? The inherent insubstantiality of all things? The absence of thingness? The absenceof self? The great pachyderm exiled in the circus stable—his shadow, brute manifestation of hissadness, looming over the sawdust—no more or less than an aggregation of elements withinnature? Bhikkhunis chant,
Anicca vata sankharaUpada va-ya dhammino… All things are impermanent.They arise and they pass away… And it’s not just elephants. As any physicist can tell you, even elements are not elemental. To be in harmony with this truthBrings great happiness. O Robert Bly, you were trying to tell us the grieving, stultified elephants are so much more thanthings. You said they rock back and forth, their vast gray heads with indented temples swayingin the light coming down above them. Waiting, hour after hour, to be called into the ring—where we pelt them with raucous applause—are they gratified that our poems bear witness to their elegance? Cruisin’ Samsara Cruisin’ down Samsara Drive—someone tell me how to grieve.Lookin’ for Motel Nirvanawhere Avalokiteśvaraextends his thousand arms—I crave his cool embrace, sweet palliative—but when did bodies not deceive?(What is Eden, what Gomorrah?)Still cruisin’ Samsara. Ask how many nights I’ve cried—maybe you’re dead, maybe alive.Wanted a bodhi, got a Mara—lose you, keep you, what’s a loverbut a long, hot ride down an endless drive—cruisin’ Samsara. Devotion
—On the meeting of two meditation masters—the older and the younger—in the Thai Forest, circa 1966 You seek me as a teacherbut you have no teacher. Do you think I’m the sky, vast enough to containthe devotion your own skin cannot hold? You’re hunting the lightthat seized you, once, in childhood—wrapped you, for a full day, in bandages of illumination that almost embalmed you—who knows why you remembered to breathe?You seek me as a teacher. You’re hunting the light— I’m only the sky that holdslight, clouds, squalling birds. You seek me as a teacher.I send you out to teach. Laura Rosenthal grew up in New York and now lives and writes in Sacramento, California. Before returning to her first love, writing, she worked for many years as a lawyer, with a focus on access to health care and health insurance. She has been published, or has poems pending publication, in Poetry Now, Tule Review, Sacramento Voices, Written Here: The Community of Writers Poetry Review 2017, the Poet Tree Anthology, the anthology Quiet Rooms, and Boog City. She is a member of the Community of Writers, has attended the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference, and has been a Senior Editor of Tule Review.