Conversations with Guru ii

He holds the kidney stone aloft above
his head as though he is a market seller
and the last nub of some sacred ginger

is up for grabs. Handled by the waiting
disciple, it is placed inside a cupboard
of pure, pitch black. The spread limbs

on the lengthy table jump up, conform
into the shape of a man, who throws
a hug around guru and weeps with thanks.

Your tears are payment enough, says guru.
He turns towards our circle: you don’t have
to feel unwell, you don’t have to feel unwell,

says guru. (—We have all filled in surveys
stating our ailments. I have turned green
with all the talk of health and python curry.)

Now guru is doing handstands and making
teas and coffees with his feet. They throw
the sugar pot and the milk like juggling balls,

and we find ourselves applauding. Have
you seen this one, says guru, as he vaults
through the window’s clear panel of sky—

a shockwave smashes a glass in the sink.
The large bird crushing my chest has a claw
on my heart. You feel this, says guru. I do.



James Howard