When asked to explain the self,
the Buddha demurred.
How would this help?
Likewise, a trusted computer
will not look too closely
at division by zero,
not because it is impossible,
but because of the hypnotic ramifications.
Caught in its beguiling web,
the self resists clear understanding.
Better to consider the photon.
When a filament of refined metallic earth
is filled to the brimming point
with a humming sweetness,
or space itself collapses
into an incredible, whirling Power–
a photon comes into being.
This child is a weightless propensity,
an extension of its source…
A particle of tungsten?
A memory of the sun’s interior?
A painted-on resonance?
A wave packet of probabilities?
The child dashes through space
like a aye, aye, yessir! trained army squirrel
with a one-track mind,
a pack on its back bearing a dispatch
and a tiny twinkling helmet.
It weaves through whole battalions
of other commissioned squirrels also whisking
through space in every direction
up down diagonal sideways and perpendicular,
forming an invisible, zooming plaid of fur–
a gauntlet of bushy tails scarcely interacting,
each a skittering remainder term
loosed from one cosmic equation and
eager to dive into the cover of a certain other,
full of desire to convey its re-balancing to all that is.
While in transit, where does balance reside?
In a massless flight through non-existence?
A photon is a qubit of light
shimmering with frequency and color,
the pace car of time,
invisible to all but
its final beholder,
an indestructible potential
that must be caught and held eventually
to register in the fields of evidence,
to deliver its innermost quality to another–
to spin the turning wheel of phenomena.
A photon is a relationship,
a link between Sender and Receiver,
an inheritance, a memory, an urgency.
What is a photon
without a leaf, or an eye,
or a woolen sweater
in which to burrow?
Where do captured photons go?
Do they still exist?
If the leaf is later dried, and burned,
will the photon that was caught
be the same one to emerge
and catapult from the flame?
How would we know?
Two photons of the same color blue.
One from the sun.
One from the burning leaf.
They are indistinguishable–
the selfsame point on Planck’s Curve–
but somehow not identical.
Where did the first one go, then?
Notice how seldom
you’ve worried about this.
Because photons are vocabulary.
Without explanation or training, we know this.
Photons are linkages, inseparable from their
beginnings and endings.
They are messengers
from the glowing heart
of phenomena that pour through
cracks in the world–
words in a flickering conversation.
The self resists clear understanding,
but still, we can see that we are gifts.
We have been given, and we will be received.
We will disappear, only to reappear.
Will the next be the same one as before?
This is our deepest worry.
Because we thought we were vocabulary,
but not the story.
How very strange.
We are the story,
the only story there is,
a story that takes up residence,
brimming and humming
in every particle of its telling.