Jennifer Litt

Buddhist Yard Sale Offers a Bit of Nirvana for Bargain Hunters

In the meditation garden at the center of American Zen,
I rifle through a stash of vinyl, find the album, Nevermind.
The cover is an underwater photograph, a baby boy
in the buff, his arms outstretched toward a dollar bill
floating in a pool, a grunge-meets-bottom line compromise
from Kurt Cobain’s idea to shoot a live home water birth.

I read the signs posted on a Japanese maple tree: “Let go
of your material objects” and “When there is no price tag,
please make a kind offer.” The first reflects Buddha’s
values-he encouraged his disciples to own eight objects
only; the second, a request for karma-based altruism.
Profits from the sale are used for temple repairs.

Browsing for other gems, I discover Pearl Jam’s Backspace
& offer the cashier ten dollars for the two, since I’ve embraced
a modest life by necessity, not by spiritual design. These yard
sale donations come from temple members who can hire
sherpas to set up camp & guide them to a mountain top.

I’ll swaddle my resentments & broken dreams in fleece
on the couch beside the vintage needle drop & contemplate
alternative lullabies, one reminding me to hurry up & take
my time; the other, to just breathe.