Urban Physic Garden

 

Holy Basil



June 19th, 2011 · No Comments · Medicinal Plants Poetry Project

Three Beads from a Tulsi Mala (Sacred Basil)
 
Sacred Basil is also known as Tulsi, and wearing a 108 bead mala made from Tulsi roots is auspicious.
— Edmond Eihei, Stems and Roots
 
            And in his hands
a long wooden string of Buddhist Rosary beads, which he keeps
moving. I ask him which mantra he is doing—but he tells me
in Zen, you don’t have to bother with any of that.
You can just play with the beads.

— Joanne Kyger, “Philip Whalen’s Hat”
 
1.
Two men meet in a room. They bow to each other. The short man performs, and the tall man asks him a question. His reply: “First I fill an earthenware bowl with fresh water. Then I wash my hands and face. I break the bowl over a pile of basil leaves. I let the water soak through all of the leaves until they are entirely saturated. I position them around my head so that I am unable to see, smell or hear.” The tall man rings a bell, and after bowing, the short man leaves.
 
77.
Two men meet in a room. They bow to each other. The short man performs, and the tall man asks him a question. His reply: “The ritual lighting of lamps each evening includes the worship of the Tulsi plant, which is held to be propitious for the home.” The tall man rings a bell, and after bowing, the short man leaves.
 
106.
Two men meet in a room. They bow to each other. The short man performs, and the tall man asks him a question. His reply: “I and/or you racking brains—we sleep on it, plant a seed, chew some cud—hey, is that a so-called we that’s chewing or maybe just an I and a you and anyway we don’t chew anything, anytime, do we?” The tall man rings a bell, and after bowing, the short man leaves.
 
 
Peter Jaeger
(From Herbarium, a new poetry anthology. Launch and reading 22 July)

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