Yesterday I finished the last of twelve radiation treatments (a difficult experience!) and this Sunday I'm going to the National Institute of Health in Bethesda to participate in the clinical trial of a new chemotherapy drug. In the interim I'm reading Yoel Hoffman's Japanese Death Poems, a fine anthology of poems written by zen monks and haiku poets just before they die. Most of the poems exhibit a calm acceptance of death, but some of them head in the other direction. I especially admire this one by Shiaku Sho'on, a monk from a samurai background:
The sharp-edged sword, unsheathed,
Cuts through the void--
Within the raging fire
A cool wind blows.
I confess this keys straight into my adolescent fantasy life. I imagine myself as Toshiro Mifune in one of Kurosawa's films, sword drawn, poised to strike, standing in a classic samurai pose, as still as a stone. Shiaku Sho'on's tough talk cheers me up, even though I know he's about to get whacked and stomped. Maybe I'll take some of this bad attitude with me to Bethesda. We'll see what happens.
Thursday, November 1, 2012
Posted by Karl at 10:50 AM