Walter Kieser recited this poem from memory during his first Shuso talk:
The Wild Geese
by Wendell Berry
Horseback on Sunday morning,
harvest over, we taste persimmon
and wild grape, sharp sweet
of summer’s end. In time’s maze
over fall fields, we name names
that rest on graves. We open
a persimmon seed to find the tree
that stands in promise,
pale, in the seed’s marrow.
Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye,
clear. What we need is here.
* * *
Benji Mary Duryee recited this poem at Walter’s Shuso ceremony, June 12, 2016:
Everything you need is here.
Difficulty piles on difficulty.
Moment after moment
With boring scientific theories.
Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words.
The thwack of the shuso staff
Cleanses the palette
For the next sip of wine.
His fan whisks away words.
High above the Canyonlands —
above the confluence of
two ancient rivers —
the fledging eagle shouts his freedom,
and abandons to the vast, empty, sky.
Everything we need is here.
* * *
Mary adds this comment:
It is always dangerous to explain poems, however the underlying stories might be interesting or amusing.
Last summer, when a large group of family and friends rafted down the Green River in the Canyonlands, my granddaughter (age 10) was standing one evening at the edge of the river, intently watching it turn from its usual chalky green to a brick red-orange, when Walter walked over to see what she was looking at. She looked up at him and said, “Walter, don’t spoil this moment with one of your boring scientific theories.” He has recounted this often with great delight, and denies that he was about to expound.
Once when hiking across the mesa above the confluence of the Green and Colorado rivers, three eagles reeled overhead, one of them crying out. Back home we learned that eagles do not vocalize — except when they are fledging. We had been watching the launching of an offspring and its parents.