The Ashokan Reservoir in the eastern Catskills was constructed between 1907 and 1915. Italian immigrants were among the laborers.
1. By the reservoir we stop for the view.
Blue mountains rim the horizon.
Their overlapping slopes are soft,
inviting as women. "Voluptuous," you say.
"Bella," I say, and see an Italian
stop his pickax midair.
2. A lone rowboat floats on their placid reflection.
It's no bigger than an eyelash from here.
In the stillness, our breathing slows.
A thousand eras lost to wind, and still
the great sages all share this moment.
Li Po, is that you beside us?
3. Walking on, our talk turns to male-female.
You say: Language makes them opposites.
"Yes," I say, "but our hearts give the lie to duality."
I was thinking of Li Po, away from home
longing for his kids: Who comforts them
with loving hugs now?
4. A diving bird distracts us.
We watch the water ripple then resolve
into smoothness under the sinking sun.
Will it re-surface? In the half-dark,
the water seems all possibility.
So it is with the ten thousand things.