by Caroline Reddy

The sacred waters of Kyoto
drip a bit of Dharma into my crown as I bow to my katana
and sensei,
allowing kata
to sharpen my mind,
and shape me
into a peaceful warrior.

My beloved Zen teachers,
long gone wanted me to move on for I was low in ki
even though I practice reiki.

I called upon Manjushri
to help me wield wisdom and find the way once again.

A dojo in Japan found me through a lucid dream and reminded me of
the Diamond Sutra, Shinto shrines

deep bows—
the sound of the hanh
as I breathed from my soul: pouring pure water
to cleanse my body,
and connect earth to sky, and sky to earth.

I rise blurry eyed at dawn
and perform basic steps:
Tai Sabaki
and review my shukudai,
layering a new move
wondering if I could find my balance in this world when my heart,

the altar
has been empty for some time.

I whisk matcha tea at dusk
and wipe my katana with choji oil before bed,
a meditative practice
in this world where making contact has become so limited.

In each fleeting moment
I perform a new kata
and imagine the plum blossoms
that are blooming across the universe as the harsh winter settles
into the scent of a new spring moon.

Caroline Reddy is a versatile writer whose works include accepted and published poems in Sar*Line, Braided Way Magazine, Soul Lit, ActiveMuse.org; along with several pieces in Breadcrumb Magazine. In the fall of 2021, her poem A Sacred Dance was nominated for Best of The Net prize by Active Muse. Caroline has also written a book review for a volume of poetry by award-winning poet Claudine Nash. A native of Shiraz, Iran, she is working on Star Being, a collection of poems that chronicles a Starseed’s journey on earth.