In a college dorm, in a prison, in a marriage
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An ox had been lost somewhere. He
heard about it, and wanted
to join with others in the search. He imagined
himself as a hunter
who had caught sight of the tracks
or instinctively knew the secret
watering places, and was able to wait
patiently nearby, concealed in a blind.
He could also imagine himself as a cat
single-mindedly stalking its prey,
or as a lizard or walking-stick camouflaged
on the branches of a tree,
as a flamingo standing on one leg for hours
in the marsh. He imagined himself
sitting so still
that he could hear
his own blood coursing through his veins,
that listening he would fall
in with the very rhythms of creation,
and through these rhythms
into the mind
of one who knew everything,
even the whereabouts of the ox.
If only he could be like a snake
warming itself on a rock,
or like a bear hibernating in winter,
like a tree which stands for 200 years
and only sways in response to the wind,
like the grass growing low in the fields,
being grazed by cattle, eaten by insects, withered
by the sun — all of which,
of course, know the whereabouts of the ox.
Or if he could just be like some plant in the garden,
a seed buried in the ground,
a stone at the edge of the road, like
one of the stars hanging in place for a million years,
like a fossil
entombed in the earth.
O the glory of thus finding the ox!
But dreaming all these things
he never caught sight of the ox.