The Old Monk’s Death

It was a sunny winter day in Baghdad by the Bay 

When the one who was called Shu-un Mitsuzen  

floated up from his bed in the dying room  

somersaulted above us—waiting to see who would join him  I looked up  

then looked down  

Together we floated out the window, over the courtyard 

In a fingersnap 

I landed hard  

back on the zafu next to his bed … his body  

But he … he disappeared somewhere over the bay. 

His name and his death were topsy-turvy  

Bright Shadow, Empty Source 

I rode the Coast Starlight home that night

© 2021 Diane Miller, All Rights Reserved


Diane Miller is a long time Zen student beginning her practice at San Francisco Zen Center.  A Sangha friend brought her to a writing group several years ago and a new passion was born. The photos in this piece are impressions of death–how the world is topsy turvy after someone dies. In this case the person was an old Zen monk from San Francisco Zen Center.  Both the art and the text were created by Diane. You can see additional images related to this series here.

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