April 10, 2014

Ascension. ~ Michelle Esquillo {Poem}

Sue Martin / Pixoto

“…A mermaid has not an immortal soul, nor can she obtain one unless she wins the love of a human being.

On the power of another hangs her eternal destiny. But the daughters of the air, although they do not possess an immortal soul, can, by their good deeds, procure one for themselves. We fly to warm countries, and cool the sultry air that destroys mankind with the pestilence. We carry the perfume of the flowers to spread health and restoration. After we have striven for three hundred years to all the good in our power, we receive an immortal soul and take part in the happiness of mankind. You, poor little mermaid, have tried with your whole heart to do as we are doing; you have suffered and endured and raised yourself to the spirit-world by your good deeds; and now, by striving for three hundred years in the same way, you may obtain an immortal soul.”

Hans Christian Andersen, “The Little Mermaid”

In China there is a waterfall called the Dragon Gate. Its waters plunge a hundred feet, more swiftly than an arrow shot by a strong archer. It is said that thousands of carp gather in the basin below, hoping to climb the falls, and that any which succeed will turn into a dragon. However, not a single carp out of a hundred, a thousand or even ten thousand can climb the falls, not even after ten or twenty years. Some are swept away by the strong currents, some fall prey to eagles, hawks, kites and owls, and others are netted, scooped up, or even shot with arrows by fishermen who line either bank of the falls ten chō wide. Such is the difficulty of a carp becoming a dragon.

~ Nichiren Daishonin, “The Dragon Gate”



i wonder if the dancing koi knows
a dragon sleeps within her scarlet breast

does she glide in circles and imagine
ivory halls and adamant and pearl
a palace vast and potent like the sea

does she dream below the rippling black
between the shafts of moon and spears of sun
through shadows and beneath them and beyond
does she wait with anxious prayer on her lips
—the longings of her mermaid heart betrayed:
the gleam of silver scale, the flash of fang
the crescent shimmer of a tapered tail

and deeper still a frenzied hope abides
that stirs the fragile pool of maiden-wishes–
the prize, the promise of a thousand years:
that strange phantasmagoric glory
no fevered mind could ever truly capture
no helpless soul could yearn but to possess

for this, she braves the torrents in their fury
she risks the danger for the dream:
to fling her battered body on the altar
her tears illumined with the ember glow

she struggles, alone and proud, unyielding
she rises, infinite; she rages on

for her and all the crimson changeling children
the dropped, forgotten, lost
this is the Way:
the middle path traces the fiercest river

does she turn on her face into the onslaught
beseech some higher god with sigh or curse
and breathe in it the cloudsweat dawn of winter
the wonder-fear, the current cruel and strong

does she thrash through silver singing thunder
impatient for the kiss and taste of fire
the ancient dance of being and becoming

she stands in victory taller than the gate
she shakes the mountain when she screams her name


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 Apprentice Editor: Carrie Marzo / Editor: Travis May

Photo: Sue Martin / Pixoto



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