Annie Yan

I dreamed I was lying in the garden

(its location, I do not know) on a ragged

yellow towel with my eyes closed. The sun

was too strong for me to have been so careless

(so exposed) in my light pink (almost white) dress,

but I was determined to feel its warmth. 

Had this version of myself up until this point

only lived inside? I remember neither

what I was thinking (maybe nothing)

nor for how long I lay there (maybe hours). 

I remember when a strange coolness filled the garden—

I opened my eyes to see the Buddha

standing over me (quietly saying nothing),

his head blocking the sun’s full circle

but its rays fanning out from behind him.  

In his smile (only a thin line) I felt a calmness

I’ve never felt before. He opened his eyes,

and I closed mine. I had many questions

for the Buddha, but I asked only one. How? 

I was ashamed of my vagueness.

But he answered (in his gentle voice): “lightly.”

This is how the Buddha walks

into the garden. (I tell myself). Lightly.

When I reached for the gold jewelry

(warm from hanging around his neck), 

the Buddha stopped me. 

He shook his head (but kept his smile),

and I watched his long ears swing.  

It was as if the he knew I had imagined 

a romance (no—an attachment) I could not have. 

He let the thousands of roses

(reds, pinks, and whites) fall from his arms

to blanket my (almost) still body. Under their weight,

I crumbled into my smaller units. 

I was only particles as I sank (with my rose petals)

into the ground, each blade of grass

a quiet spear in my body. When the Buddha left

(and I was no longer real), only the echoes

of my question lingered in the garden

I have since been unable to return.