Tuesday, December 3, 2013

at the rubin museum

yes there was that, um, incident... but i still have a certain attachment to the place. and on the first monday of each month admission is free to museumgoers of a certain age.
for a couple of hours in the afternoon there's a writing workshop involving (for me at least)  deep observation of a single work, distraction, scribbled impressions and attempts to distill the impressions into an intelligible whole.

ive attended two of these workshops and i've been pleased with what i've written. i seem to be getting the same message from each object. any pretensions obtain to my work not to the objects themselves.

both are from the exhibit from india east: sculpture of devotion from the brooklyn museum on loan while the brooklyn museum undergoes renovation.

the first is this medicine buddah (photo from the brooklyn museum website)

his almost abstract quality drew me, also his being unlike anything else in the exhibition. he was carved by the japanese buddhist monk and sculptor enku (1632-1695) who wandered throughout japan helping the poor and carving some 120,000 statues. many were crudely carved from tree stumps or scrap wood with a few strokes of a hatchet. some were given to comfort those who had lost family members, others to guide the dying on their journeys to the afterlife

medicine buddah

hewn rough,
stern yet smiling sideways,
simple form
hides power. this
healing buddah -
where has he been?
whose hands held him fast,
stroked his coarse angles.
whose hands, clasped,
asked what form of solace?
serene, even trapped
in a dim room in a
plexiglas box,
grinning, still,
his secrets still safe.

hinting at knowledge
freed from wood,
see beyond my simple bearing
he implores, see me bearing a gift
for you alone to know,
the gift of knowing
yourself alone.

seated buddah
sri lanka, 7-8th century chosen, again, for his simplicity among far more elaborate and decorated figures.

seated buddah

i will lend my serenity.
solid, green, weathered bronze,
i am slender and straight.
approach. i smile only
at my own simplicity.

right leg over left,
the vira asana,
my hands at rest
in meditation pose.

i have sat this way
for a dozen centuries.
i know what i am.
if you sit, calm, with me
this moment, ours,
is perfect
as you, as i

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