Empty Bowl

Daniel David

Did the young prince sleep,
I have often wondered,
did his stomach rumble?
Did Siddhartha eat under
the boughs of the Bodhi tree?
Forty-nine days, then nirvana!

Now the Buddha,
he picked up his empty bowl
and sought his supper on the street.
Buddha beggar – blessed panhandler.
Buddha became that man
on the subway proffering a paper cup.

A vast portion of Buddha’s day,
busy between bouts of awakening,
was spent seeking his buffet.
I can’t help but recall The Little Red Hen:
if we all cup empty bowls
of nirvana, every farmer’s ideal,

who tills the soil, sows the seed,
who threshes the sheaves, mills the flour,
who kneads and bakes the dough?
Who lays the bread in Buddha’s empty bowl?
And, by the way, who wove
Buddha’s brilliant, saffron robe?

At least Jesus dished loaves
and fishes, turned water into wine,
bellies content after the sermon.
(Did they hear any of it when hungry?)
Did the Buddha ladle a little
dose of enlightenment for his repast?