Walking Meditation with Thich Nhat Hanh: A Poem

Sunday, August 20, 2017 - 4:00 pm
Thich Nhat Hanh walking with others in a forest.

Walking Meditation with Thich Nhat Hanh: A Poem

Fifty of us follow him loosely
up the mountain at Deer Park Monastery.
We are in the slow motion of a dream
lifting off the dreamer’s brow. Steps
into steps and the body rising out
of them like smoke from a fire
with many legs. Gradually the flames
die down and the earth is finally under us.
Inside the mountain a centipede crawls
into no-up, no-down.

Our meditations
waver and recover us, waver
and reel us in to our bodies
like fish willing at last to take on the joy
of being fish, in or out of the water.
When we gather at last at the summit
and sit with him
we know we have moved the mountain
to its top as much as it carried us
deeply into each step.

Going down is the same.
We breathe and step. Breathe,
and step. A many-appendaged being
in and out of this world. No use
telling you about peace attained.
Get out of your feet.
Your breath. Enter
the mountain.


“Walking Meditation with Thich Nhat Hanh” ©2006 Tess Gallagher. Reprinted from Dear Ghosts, with the permission of Graywolf Press, Saint Paul, Minnesota.

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Tess Gallagher

is a poet, fiction writer, essayist, screenplay writer, and translator. She was born in 1943 in Port Angeles, Washington, to a logging family. Her early years were marked by the rhythms of seasonal work, as well as the landscape of both the Northwest and the Ozarks, where her grandparents lived.

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