Art by Harriett Rex Smith
Monk at the Moment of Enlightenment
—Wood carving, Asian Art Museum, Seattle
That little yellow dauber wasp
worked and flew until it dropped.
Until the end of every blessed day
it flew straight, never lost its way.
Found the dirt, mixed the water,
hefted tiny gobs, daubed the mortar.
Never wondered if this mixture
might represent some wider picture—
some perfect mix of form and function.
Function—raise a progeny within asylum.
Form—daub a ball, a safer nest, a quiver.
Is this a bumbling wasp’s ancient elixir,
or ordained by phylum’s older nature?
Some Yung Dynasty’s expert woodcarver
captured that monk’s hot blaze of mystery.
But dauber wasps are born consistent—
born enlightened—carry water carry mud;
no need to prize a finger off far-off moons.
It knew well its place in time and space;
no need to plan on how to find a grace.
But then it found a perfect final resting bed—
a nest inside a monk’s empty wooden head.
A leavened monk stares off beyond rare air;
but essences of tiny wasp beat him there.