At The Gate

At The Gate

Alan Seltzer

Emergency Exit 9 by Dounya Salehi (full series)

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.