"Slip Sliding Away"

1. Pine trees and salt

From land to land,

from body to body

I fly, and I cherish in my flight.


The air is crisp, it lifts

my bones and fills

my tiny lungs with pleasure.


I try not to look down,

my wings are thin,

I fly over water and I don’t know how to swim.


Here, or there, on land

or body I stop, and build my nest,

with branches of pine trees and long twisted veins.


I cleanse it with tears and with teeth,

I thread hair with roots and with grass,

it’s dry and it’s wet and it’s deep, more sacred than mass.


No better I know

of flying or nesting.

I know my two instincts as one.


Sometimes, red drops

fall, and melt in the water.

Sometimes, my nest is full of salt.


2. Sand mandalas, or Circularly

The wind blows, and blows

the grains of sand

from corridor to room,

from room to garden green,

current that meets no door,

no window on its path.

Circularly, circularly,

around the columns big,

the grains and specks of

sand and dust they swirl,

then proceed, spirally,

spirally, lingering here, or

there, here, or there.


The monks, like butterflies

sit on the floor. The room

would be room, was the ceiling

not so high, and the walls

not so far, and the space

not so much. Their soft,

young fingers are dipped

in thin colored sands.


Patience and dedication,

attention to the detail,

care for the universe.

Three hours, one day,

one month, and the sand

will return to the river

whence it came. Nothing

of the mandala will remain.

The monks will turn

their heads to the sky,

and laugh. The thin,

newborn sky will look,

and laugh with them.

Elisa Sabbadin