You hold tightly to the belief
that there is only one being inside you.
How you will survive?
Your fear strangles you
whenever you hear a voice
that comes from within you,
a voice you do not recognize
that seems to know you. You say
it is just self-distortion, a mad memory.
Learned books have long said
it is vital to bring all beings within us
together under one name. Bah —
do not surrender your life
to learned books. Suppose instead
that you are a shell, a community,
and you long ago locked your doors
to the others. You’ve become the hermit
on the edge of their town,
the one they tell stories about.
Have you heard any of them? Maybe they
are curious or furious, as frightened of you
as you are of them? You should at least
crack open your door and listen. Ask them
to tell you their names and what they know
of you. Offer them a small meal
if they agree to come sit before the fire
in your hermitage. Don’t talk. Don’t
argue with them. Call them by their
names as you thank them
each in turn for what you learn.
Once they leave, not long before dawn,
you will sit by the coals until you fall well-asleep
for the first time in a long, long time.