Buddha with a Cell Phone
The dark sky opens and it starts to rain. I go outside
to stand in the stream, the longed-for gift of water
where it hasn’t rained for so long. I shout and dance
with the dog, who puts his ears back and licks my nose.
When we come back in, he shakes and I do too,
a few drops flying off my hair. I notice the Buddha
sitting on my desk. He’s a rubber Buddha
in a yellow robe. If you squeeze him he squeaks.
He’s got a radiant smile on his face, his eyebrows
happy half-moons over his eyes. As I stare at him
my wife walks by and with a cheery Buddha-like glint says,
“It’s raining.” In his right hand the Buddha’s got a cappuccino
and in his left a cell phone pressed to his ear.
His lips are closed so I know he’s listening, not talking.
One more thing—I pick up a little kaleidoscope
lying next to the Buddha and lift it to my eye to look outside.
I thought it would make the raindrops glitter
through the autumn-dry corn but instead what I see
looks like the ceiling of a great cathedral.
I whirl around and am presented with the image
of a thousand rubber Buddhas, each one
a drop of rain, falling, ready to hit the ground
David Romtvedt (b. 1950), American Poet; Poet Laureate of Wyoming.
There is a sandalwood Buddha on the desk that has my stomach
and I don’t suppose to call myself a Buddha
or even pretend to know much about Buddhist whirlings
but Rachel gave me the thing and it’s got my belly
the one my father has got
and the one his father had
and I know this bulge the way I know my name,
and can’t believe I’ve become the language of fat
that the boys in my family have kept quiet.
So I encourage my stomach out into the world,
rub it on a daily basis and think
that if I ever become a religious man
there would be god and glory to find there,
my rib cage distended,
my love of ice cream as sweet as my love of Rachel
who put the Buddha in my palm a month after we met and said, have this,
and I said, I already have this,
my hands in motion around my belly button and then today
noticed for the first time that the little bastard has got some serious nipples on him,
thank god, and breasts too,
he’s the perfect kind of godlike statuette
even if I am a Jew
but the days have been glorious and people die in truck crashes
and men beat their wives and flowers bloom purple
and the cardinal I’ve named Jack always comes around my way at this time,
4:40 in Baldwin on the Island,
Wes Montgomery on the Sony
and I don’t know if it’s his song Cariba or the wind on my swollen toes
that makes me pick up the little guy, stick him in my mouth,
swirl him around between teeth and cheek,
place him on the edge of my tongue and let him surf there,
through the neighborhood of my white heat,
on the curl of my pink waves.
Matthew Lippman, American teacher and poet.