The Ancient Modern
Another Dream of Yellow Millet / Joshua Alan Sturgill
from the music of simmering
and the meticulous caress
of fragrant grain, I was led out
from the wilderness
to a lively restaurant
in the busier quarters of the city.
Such people! Such food! Such light!
Men with beautiful bodies,
tall women, well-groomed. And envy came
and tempted me to stay and talk
and be welcomed. A screen
high up on a wall
showed images of adventure, inviting me
to throw myself down
into chance and daring. I saw
rows and rows of spices,
all the spices of the world and their flavors.
I wondered why should I be satisfied
with millet? I conceived
a desire to leave my home and be embraced
by spices, to command worshipful admiration,
to test my body with novelty.
A terrible choice! But a remembrance
came quietly: where is death? Death is here,
unacknowledged. I closed my eyes
and looked again. And I saw: death
hiding in ecstasy. Then
in my dream I found a door:
To be known, not observed
To have a center, unhurried
To choose instead of spices
the humility of salt. And I woke,
the millet just tender. And I ate.
And after, I rinsed the kettle
and brewed a cup of tea