At The Gate
Should I be prepared to sit for years
cross-legged on this black cushion
staring at a point on the blank white
wall that is not there?
Should I do whatever it takes
to prove myself, to get your attention,
to have revealed to me the secret
that is not a secret?
Should I be like those of legend,
stand half naked in the snow
before your gate for days on end,
refrain from eating until you smile at me,
slash my arm with a ritual sword?
Do you doubt that I could stand unflinching
when you hit me with a stick,
ponder your cryptic riddles endlessly,
wander lonely mountain paths
until mountains become mountains?
Or do you fear I really will
cross the stream, abandon the raft,
and no one at all will be standing at your gate?
Alan Seltzer holds an M.A. in English from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He currently teaches in the writing program at LaSalle University. He has had an interest in Buddhist thought and practice for the past dozen years.