And on the 48th Day Awoke the Buddha

He does not know how long this sleep will last.
The milk porridge that the young girl offered
before his descent into dreaming, he

digests slowly, dissembling molecule
by deliberate molecule life’s frail,
unravelling essence. Flesh hesitates,

after 47 days of fast, weakened,
ready to be shorn off in his spirit’s
expedition. Beneath arid fig tree,

the journey swerves between immolation
and indulgence, asceticism and
desire – and even the heart, exhausted,

falters, not knowing what waits just within
sight, just within reach, just within his grasp.


  1. Short link -

  2. As a long time student of Buddha, I find this poem intriquing. The images invoke a different view from the standard understanding of Buddha's determination to 'sit' (in meditation) until he 'awakens.' Dreaming? Certainly a valid description ... in a sense. However, his battle with Mara might be better described as a nightmare. I absolutely love the second stanza; it brings to mind the process Siddhattha Gautama began in becoming the Buddha. Most intriquing is your last line, "just within reach, just within his grasp." Buddha's awakening represents the ultimate realization of detachment from personal ego. The use of 'grasp' is very ironic. Interesting stuff here, Samuel, as always. I'm looking forward to seeing these all in print someday... and owning a 'signed' first edition. :)

  3. I am with PCNiles - plus I think it is now my favorite of your poems.

  4. Thank you! It wears the cloak of simplicity, but this poem turned out to be one of my most difficult technically to write. It has become one of my favourites as well.

  5. Just within remains just within...nobody knows, may be he didn't grasp it. No one can answer. You are probably right to use just "within" without final.

  6. A poem to be proud of indeed. I really liked the line "dissembling molecule by deliberate molecule", although of course the entire piece is masterfully rendered!


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