Munakata Shiko's Mu
An enso would have been easy:
a fleet circle in one stroke meaning
nothing, and the everything inside.
But mu is twelve signposts
flung with all two hundred and six
bones of your body, sweat
pooling in splashed ink like the spoor
of an animal racing
towards its own nature.
If an enso is zero
mu cannot be solved. Its
variables multiply by twelves
into an infinity of hours,
months, zodiac years,
tribes, apostles, lambs.
If an enso is an eel swallowing
its tail, one way to answer
(without swallowing your tongue,
your certainty, your doubt, or the twelve
questions that arise from every question)
does an eel have Buddha nature?
Lindsay Shen is Director of Art Collections at Chapman University, Orange, CA. She is the author of a literary biography of a woman poetry translator in China, and Silver, Reaktion Books, 2017. She writes both creative non-fiction and academic work, and her writing has appeared in international publications such as Architectural Review, Modernism Magazine, the Rijksmuseum Bulletin, and China Today. She has written for the National Trust for Scotland, the University of Minnesota, Hong Kong University Press, plus several literary journals and travel guides. Her poetry and creative writing have been published by Antiphon, the Eunoia Review, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, and Eastlit (nominated for a 2014 Pushcart Prize).
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