Tao Te Ching #16, The Source

Whenever it was that I first saw them

(I know it was when my dad lifted me to see)

I saw chickens hatching

from their eggs. The chicks were wet,

I remember that they were wet,

and I remember that the coop was dark,

but that dad had a flashlight.


Years later, I saw a horse dying in a pasture.

I was riding a bike that day to a neighbor’s house

(which would mean I was about nine)

but when I walked (frightened, yes) toward the horse

lying there (dying there, I thought)

a little horse stood up,

and I was too surprised to run.

So I watched the mother,

who wasn’t dying, only waiting,

stand herself, and

lick herself and her colt clean.


And then today I wanted to see if

the finches, the junkos, and the titmouse

would come near if I stood

beside the feed I’d spread

on the snow-covered ground

near the pecan tree,

long enough, still enough, quietly enough.

I stood, motionless, intentionally breathing

slow and low, minutes and more minutes-

breathe in 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8……

breathe out 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8…..

then, in slow movement

as smoothly as possible

I knelt

to be even closer, when they returned

if they returned..

and they did.

One, a junko, landed about ten feet away then,

a thistle seed at a time, came closer and closer,

then another junko (charcoal and cream) and another.

A titmouse swooped-twice- then landed, then was gone.

Finch- two, four, ten, tiny, delicate, aggressive and golden

and more junkos

(the junkos chirping, the finches crunching).

I am still still and I am breathing quietly

and I am feasting, in memory and vision,

with hatching chicks

and standing horses

and (now) chirping, crunching birds

and it is proper that I am


and I am only there because I am

invisibly present

and I am


It would look to some

as if I am praying..

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