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Sweet Bodhisattva Basil

By Emily Whittle 

Photo by Paul Davis
Enthusiastic,
but ignorant,
of basic basil needs,
I planted six tender shoots
in a clay pot
and set them in the sun
where they promptly wilted,
then withered
in several days of ferocious heat.
Chagrined,
I removed
the limp bodies,
now destined for compost.
A hint of breath
caused me to reconsider
and I gave them a second chance,
this time in rich mulched soil.
For weeks I hovered,
like a mother
beside a sick child’s bed.

By September
the plants had flourished,
merging into a dense bush
three feet tall
and four feet wide—
the pride of my garden—
harvested in the fall
for pesto
and jars of pungent leaves.

Just so
a rough beginning
need not foretell
a tragic end.
A friend, now old,
bitterly blames her mother
for her lonely life.
I fatten her
on pasta with pesto,
stirring the spicy dharma
into each bite.

Emily Whittle, True Wonderful Happiness, practices with The Community of Mindful Living in the Pines in Pinehurst, North Carolina, US. This poem will appear in a new chapbook entitled Fruits of the Practice, Too. 

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What is Mindfulness

Thich Nhat Hanh January 15, 2020

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