The Buddha picks up a call without first checking caller ID,

so he is unprepared for the phone sales person’s smooth
segue from the opening “Do I have the pleasure of speaking
with Mr. Buddha?” to a series of personal-seeming questions.
Too late, he realizes these are geared toward selling him
a life insurance product. But, having nothing more pressing
to do than water his dendrobiums and clean the bathroom
before a simple supper and his bedtime meditation,
he lets the agent who identifies himself as “Joe”
work through his spiel. The Buddha answers in good
faith questions about dependents and beneficiaries:
No one, and everyone; and whether he might appreciate
the difference between a simple term life insurance
versus a universal or whole-life policy which combines
life coverage with an investment fund: The goal of all
life, young man, is the movement toward greater and
greater enlightenment, which is the freedom at last
from suffering and illusion.
Joe the agent splutters,
fumbles to pick up the thread, then falls momentarily
silent before concluding he is speaking with a madman.
Therefore, when he disconnects, he does not hear
the Buddha’s questions: What good is the cash value
one might build from investments made by the company
in my imperfect life? and even if there is no deductible
because death is a one time event— from every iteration
of suffering, do we not die repeatedly and wither
faster than thistles under the scorching sun?

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Poet Luisa A. Igloria (Poetry Foundation web page, author webpage ) is the winner of the 2015 Resurgence Prize (UK), the world’s first major award for ecopoetry, selected by former UK poet laureate Sir Andrew Motion, Alice Oswald, and Jo Shapcott. She is the author of What Is Left of Wings, I Ask (forthcoming, 2018 Center for the Book Arts Letterpress Chapbook Prize, selected by Natasha Trethewey); Bright as Mirrors Left in the Grass (Kudzu House Press eChapbook selection for Spring 2015), Ode to the Heart Smaller than a Pencil Eraser (Utah State University Press, 2014 May Swenson Prize), Night Willow (Phoenicia Publishing, 2014), The Saints of Streets (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2013), Juan Luna’s Revolver (2009 Ernest Sandeen Prize, University of Notre Dame Press), and nine other books. She is a member of the core faculty of the MFA Creative Writing Program at Old Dominion University which she directed from 2009-2015. In 2018, she was the inaugural Glasgow Distinguished Writer in Residence at Washington and Lee University. When she isn’t writing, reading, or teaching, she cooks with her family, hand-binds books, and listens to tango music.

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