Transmission by Stanley Lombardo

My wife was the first Buddhist I’d ever metLombardo

striding into the School of Religion’s library

early in the spring semester of 1978

with her maroon zafu under her arm.

Looking me in the eye she asked

“Is this where the sitting is going to be?”

We’d sometimes sit in her apartment

the two of us facing each other in the twilight

And when I asked her in a Kansas City jewelry store

if she would marry me

she said no and drove off to California

and her tall blond physicist boyfriend

in her Chevy Nova

Only to accept in Berkeley that summer

the sapphire and two little diamonds I presented to her

as if it were a multiple star system.

That fall we got married,

first under a chupa for her parents

and later in our grey robes,

vowing to enter Buddha’s great ocean of vows.

Today she wears a gold kasa,

and our hair is grey.

When Un Mun was asked what was under his robes

he answered, “Intimacy.”

I still peek at her sometimes when we sit.

~ Stanley Lombardo

Stanley Lombardo has published translations of the poems of Homer, Sappho, Virgil, Ovid and Dante. Having hoed that long row he is now tending to his own poetry and preparing to retire from the University of Kansas where he has taught classical languages for 37 years.


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