Poem: “Here at the Ati” from Moonlight Leaning Against an Old Rail Fence

Posted by – June 30, 2015
Categories: Excerpt Literature & the Arts Spirituality & Religion

by Paul Weiss


MoonlightLeaningPaul Weiss’ Moonlight Leaning Against an Old Rail Fence weaves the poetic and the expository in a series of Zen poems and commentaries that invite both direct experience and meditative study. Below is one piece from this collection and the accompanying text that allows readers to dive deeper into the poem’s meaning.


Here in the Ati

Spring returns again
to the Ati mountains where
spring has never left.

Winds of leaf and snow,
the seasons dance like maidens
tossing scarves in air.

Our hearts are made of
the same clear blue as the sky,
the same gentle rain.

Here in the Ati
we don’t listen to the weather
channel. Just smile.


This year winter was layered thick in Maine. The snow was so insistent (and still piling high at February’s end) that we locals knew it was one of those years it would stay piled into April. But spring had its own plans. A couple of effortless days of warm wind and rain in early March and the snow was virtually gone. Winter had liberated itself.

Our karmas seem to be piled high, sustained by our own beliefs and expectations. Each moment seems to add a new layer of drama and captivity. This is the weather “everyone talks about, but no one does anything about.” It is the writing etched ever deeper, the knot pulled ever tighter. But here in the Ati Mountains, we understand that spring is effortlessly self-liberating in each instant. We know that all writing is on water. And every knot is a slip knot.

Ati yoga is “the great perfection,” the yoga of self-liberating awareness, winter instantly resolving back to spring. Throughout the playful cycling of the seasons, the rainbow-maiden dance of appearance, and the imaginary patterns of fixation, the distance between winter and spring remains: zero.

As for ourselves, we are not other than this same clear blue, the vast emptiness of sky, magically precipitating the gentle rain of compassionate activity. Our heart is that very same primordial poet of the primordial smile.

Here in Maine we know how misleading a weather report can be. How much more so if we don’t suspect it is we who have been broadcasting the weather channel and keeping the weather going. Outwardly, it is important to clean up your mess. Shovel your driveway. Inwardly, know that self-liberating spring is the primordial weather, the primordial attribute of the heart/mind. The weather of no-weather. Then turn off the weather channel and hike with me into the Ati. There, every place we put our foot down is a smile.


Excerpted from Moonlight Leaning Against an Old Rail Fence: Approaching the Dharma as Poetry by Paul Weiss. © 2015, North Atlantic Books.

Tags: Buddhism Poetry Yoga Paul Weiss
About the Author

Marina is the Marketing & Digital Programs Coordinator at North Atlantic Books. After living in New Orleans and Amsterdam, and exploring a couple of continents, she returned to the San Francisco Bay Area to work at NAB. She's passionate about astrology, nonfiction books, and sustainable living, as well as all things metaphysical.