Za Zen

— Breauna L. Roach

We’re counting to quiet the mind. We’ve learned this
technique full scale but today I’m stuck on trying to pinpoint
how many sunsets are left before we break up.
These arguments have become nightly
like meditation. Still, our eyes are closed and I’m
lotus-folded atop the pillow. You’re crane-posed
on the wall—I can hear you chanting and the mantra’s
on my mouth, too—but my mind is randomly moving me
through the universe. One second, I’m in North Florida, the next
I’m in California, where the cry of the Native’s Loon Woman
has almost been forgotten but I find her—gold necked and weary,
wearing hearts that shrivel then swell on a necklace, throat full of smoke,
flying circles above the pit of fire she created when she could no longer
keep her lover. She is wailing, like any woman who’s been shattered
beyond repair, and I try bird-calling out to her, but the taste of charcoal
is too heavy on my lips and she wouldn’t have heard me anyway
for all the screams of the men she’s burning inside. And suddenly I realize
I’m counting “1-2-3” instead of the reverse, like we’re supposed to be
and I’m whistling a bird call to you, stay with me—or at least
help scrub clean the mess your absence will leave behind.

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