Wilna Panagos

Doggerland [four kōans]

What is this?

It is sometimes heard, but never seen. It descends to earth on calm moonlit nights. You can hear it bullroaring from a great height like a shell over a trench. It is the bird Hakawai passing over Hakawai's garrison. It is an omen of war. Walking and humming. And the seven lucky gods laugh because they are lucky.

Who is it who makes a sound so beautiful that you forget everything you know, who is it who rolls her eggs into the sea and the eggs hatch and a thunderstorm riles the ocean? It is the bird Alkonost, Alkonost with her human head. Alkonost, the dark gleaming daughter with a view of the wing of the silent king. That's me when I'm not there. The great doubt. Death to us all.

Who is dragging this corpse about? Who counts the seven lucky gods? We have a quorum: fat Hotei and old old Jurōjin and happy Fukurokuju and wealthy Daikokuten and Ebisu with his fish. No. It is Bishamonten. And Benzaiten hands the knowledge and the art and the beauty to Bishamonten and she vanishes. And Bishamonten fingers Hakawai's red and white and black feathers as if he is telling beads and he looks at the three star gods, and Shou drops his peach.

And Persian Suhrawardi says: the principle of sufficient reason is wearing shoes for the thorns. The reason for knowledge is recovery, he says. Perfection as praise and perfection as condemnation, says the ghost, I have a map, it says, but I cannot find the city. Brava, says the ocean, and there is a short silent pause.

Wilna Panagos' work has appeared or is forthcoming in New Contrast Literary Journal, Gone Lawn, Otoliths, Museum Life , Medusa's Laugh Press, Prick of the Spindle, The Undertow Review, Ditch Poetry, Psychopomp Magazine, Altpoetics. She wrote and illustrated a few children's books and is currently writing something which may or may not turn out to be a short, odd novel. She believes in orange and pigeons, has an imaginary dog and lives in Pretoria, South Africa. Her Facebook alter ego is here: www.facebook.com/mariahelena.havisham

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