No Less Everything

Late Autumn Elms (wallpaper)

by Katha Pollitt, from The Mind-Body Problem

It’s all maya—that’s what we used to say,
Zen friends forever, rushing into the dorm
flushed from our dash through the common,
     stamping our snow-
caked boots like Cossacks: all illusion, term

papers, bad sex, no sex, my antique
real-lace camisole
lifted by the class kleptomaniac
and smuggled in atonement to Goodwill—

how scornfully we flung into our bon-
fire mere phenomena, all shadows, dreams,
as though it was not we who burned, our own
vitality we watched go up in flames!

It’s always maya—I still say that, Cartesian
to the end, and yet it comes back differently
now I believe it, everything is illusion
and yet is no less everything: love, safety,

the warm living room and the October sun
slant on the good rug, or the train today
from which I watched, beyond my dim reflection,
the silent, bright elms burn themselves away.