Wednesday, October 22, 2003

from Dzogchen Interferon: By Peter Marti

Spring Liver

Zero Viral Load, March 2003

My country is at war
and I fight with my body
an irritability that rears up
hydra headed as this spring—
a pushing insistent shattering
wind and gusts of rain squalling across
these forests and coastal mountains.

“Spring is the Liver’s season,” my
acupuncturist explains when I complain
that my mood has worsened
after a near month of relative calm
of balmy days and starry jasmine nights
that my headaches lay me down for hours
that my skin is even more cranky and red
prone to mysterious itchy bumps which appear
and vanish like the moon behind clouds.

Blood tests show the Hepatitis C virus
which multiplied silently 20 years into 2 million cells
is undetectable—contained for now by chemotherapy—
half way through my 6 month course.
I should feel better, cleared of the angry liver
cells which helped forge my adult nature, but don’t.

“Spring itself is hepatic,” she continues
“it brings energy and the agony of new life
—irritability is a boundary dispute,
a skirmish between civility and Self’s imagined territory.”

My kind wife and I quarrel often because of me
our words tear like those wild rose thorns ripping my jacket as I tried to fix the water pipe
back on the heaving, green hill.
Our young cat feels the season too

races around and around through open doors.
Baseball’s opening day, my team on TV,
the cat marches proudly in
a black thing dangling from his maw
I grab the hunter to get him to drop the creature
it’s not a mouse that skitters out
but a bat who flaps up into the canvas roof, circles my Buddhist shrine, past the Boddhisattvas and my face
into the dusk…

* * *

The General, May 2003

“Think of your heart as the Emperor,” she says
“the pericardium his Minister…but your liver
is the General.”
For now though, the General is in retreat,
I think during the treatment
She burns moxa near my feet to draw the heat
away from my head.

Spring has worsened.
The sky is wild and the headaches have turned migraine
sensitive to lights, dizzy, weak
I rarely venture outside
Analgesics Relpax &Butalbital no longer helping
(even hydrocodeine!)
I’m given Tizanidine to ease neck/ shoulder tension
restless without energy, impatient without cause

Insomnia treated with Ambien which slaps me out
like a movie mickey for a few hours.
A bright red blossoming rash, like the flowering weeds
out front, keeps me itching chest, legs, arms, belly
for which Hydroxyzine is prescribed by the kindly
psychopharmacologist to whom I turn for possible
alternative to the antidepressant Effexor.
He asks questions & listens well
increases dose by 50% and encourages
my Buddhist Practice…
I polish offering bowls every morning,
visualize heat passing through me liberating
Virus Cells into No Body Dharmakaya…

Despite all efforts, my mood darkens.
My wife is losing patience with my constant grouch
for the world
despairing: Don’t wanna be a Grumpy
Old Man constantly
complaining of Body’s Ills!
I’ve grown insular, like an ingrown hair
worried over unto Death itself
by my own mind
visions of perfect pussy
and fried chicken haunt me like a hangover.
There is no doctor other than the Lama
no medicine but Dharma…

“Your liver has incredible, positive attributes”
she begins our next visit.
“Yes it purifies the blood,” I mumble
“…more than that: Your eyes, the very Vision
of who-you-are-in-the-world and the work you’ve longed
to be doing but haven’t done—is Liver’s Domain.
It teaches us through ailments
that we haven’t reached our goal.”

Just weeks before I turn 50 years old
I realize I’ve chiseled away for 20 years
at high stress “careers” instead of finding
simple passage
to the Emperor’s gently beating chambers.


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