Through a clearing in the woods
we walked to a house where a polished
floor had been laid and the windows
looked out into a well of trees.
Flags of orange, yellow, and green
fluttered like prayers detonating
in the wind. I was offered and took
a cloth-bound mallet in my hand,
and struck at the rim of the gong.
It released a full, deep note
like a ring, like an eddy
that rose and branded the air
with its widest name. What should I
have answered when it asked which is
the better teacher, desire or suffering?