A Psychiatrist Waits for His 10 O'clock Patient and Imagines He is Han Shan

March 1, 2006

Han Shan was a Taoist/Buddhist hermit-poet who lived in China's Tientai Mountains 1,200 years ago. An immortal figure in Chinese literature and Zen, his name means Cold Mountain, which he used to refer to himself and the mountain retreat where he lived.

Daughter gone,

hair gone, my father

dead for half my life.

Patients I saved from suicide

lived until old age,

died from cancer instead!

Twenty years of hospital work.

Twenty years pruning apple trees.

on the west flank of Cold Mountain.

Once they were sticks.

Now the branches bow with ripe fruit.

A faint wind stirs them.

I'll share a bushel with the crows,

another with the worms!

Han Shan was a Taoist/Buddhist hermit-poet who lived in China's Tientai Mountains 1,200 years ago. An immortal figure in Chinese literature and Zen, his name means Cold Mountain, which he used to refer to himself and the mountain retreat where he lived.