No Path to Here


There is no path that goes all the way.
Ancient words coming forth from Cold Mountain,
from so very long ago, like echoes in a canyon.
 
As I sit beneath an oddly bright gray sky
a breeze softly lifts the pages of this journal
while white-throated sparrows sing all around.
Clear notes and buzzy trills.
 
Meanwhile, high overhead a kestrel circles
announcing its place in the world with a voice its own.
Lik lik lik likliklik!
Leaving no trace across the sky.
 
What did Han Shan mean by no path goes all the way?
And what is this kestrel’s no-trace?
Is it possible for humans to leave no trace
and to travel the no-path path?
 
What about my desire to, in fact, leave a trace,
to have a positive impact on the world
and to leave my mark, something to be remembered by?
Can I leave no trace and still be remembered?
No-trace may be right for falcons but what about humans?
 
These questions and others bounce around
the canyons of my mind and heart
echoes from the past, returning to the present.
And suddenly, as if on the wind, Han Shan’s words come back.
 
There is no path that goes all the way.
 
Immediately I think, “ahh, yes, right.”
We leave the trail behind and continue on a pathless journey
creating no path as we go, leaving no trace.
We make our way, alone and sometimes forlorn
 
connected too and remembering that
the reflections we see
in cold clear lakes and in clouds
are the true shape of our own face.

by David LaFever


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