The disease is the guru. The lesson is incomprehensible, ever changing, and every day is a final exam for material you’ve never learned. You will fail. It’s okay. The test is not the test: the real test is always under the test you thought you were taking. The guru will pelt you with bananas and apples while your pencil tip breaks and you wake in fear you’ve shown up to the wrong classroom wearing an unfamiliar body. No test will determine what the test is because all is test and none is test. The disease will strip you to gritty grains only to blow you off its palm into the ancient courtyard to mix with dust that is you and moon and monkey and apple. Sub ek , you whisper. All is one. The disease, cure. The test, answers. The dust, courtyard. The moon, banana: all one. Your disease sits cross-legged, smiling, one finger raised, mumbling mantras through toothless gums.
Peter Conners has published nine books of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction from such presses as Da Capo, City Lights, and Cornell University Press. His third prose poetry collection with White Pine Press will be published in spring 2022. He works as publisher and executive director of the poetry publishing house BOA Editions.
Image: “Fuck” by Charles J. March III