"Shika No Tone"
Distant Call of the Deer


An Interpretation
by Mary Lu Brandwein

My bones stretch my skin to the breaking point
Taut over my distorted body
Contorting it beyond knowing
Forcing it to grasp out

Lash out farther and farther

The bones gnaw at the flesh
Forcing it to writhe
To clutch at all things
Forcing the flesh to feed on all things

Feeding with the hope of alleviating the pain
And satiating the incessant desire:
The desire with no name;
The desire with every name,

Forcing the body to gorge itself on all satisfaction
Bloating itself beyond recognition
Gnarling itself with electrical thought-shocks
Spiraling itself into time and obsession
Desiring to quench desire:
The desire with no name;
The desire with every name.

The total all-consuming desire that will not be satisfied.

If not satisfied, then perhaps numbed with
Too much coming, too much going, too much activity, study, noise,
Too much fun, seeing, fighting, hiding, eating, praying,
Too much thinking, running, reading, laughing...
Too much sugar, caffeine, heroin, chocolate, sex, work, sleep, pain
Too much TV, self-pity, fantasy, travel, data...
To much anything; too much everything.

Raw desire gnawing
Calling out in parties with smiling faces
Longing in movie theaters
Yearning in malls and streets
Screaming in bars and crowds
Wanting in markets and computer terminals
Asking in churches and shrines
Shouting in meetings and stadiums
Buzzing in the zendo
Begging in restaurants and bedrooms.

The deluded bones
Desperately searching

Hungering through the minutes of the arched hallways
   of the labyrinthine years
Through the centuries of the mind.

How many roads have I forced these bones to go down
   to satisfy them?
To silence the pain of desire?

The stones of the road give one answer
   to the feverish groping hands
The wind in the trees gives only one answer
   to the aching bones
Only one answer in the whole universe...
Only one answer arises from the twisted, spent body...
And the brain now empty of all conjecture...

Desire itself is its own resting place.

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