A Poetic Fragment

Antonio Machado

Antonio Machado

Poetry can twist you around sometimes even if you just read a little sample of it. The following lines by the Spanish poet Antonio Machado (1875-1939) were in the introduction to a book on Buddhism by Thich Nhat Hanh:

Wanderer, the road is your
footsteps, nothing else;
wanderer, there is no path,
you lay down a path in walking.

In walking, you lay down a path
and when turning around
you see the road you’ll
never step on again.
Wanderer, path there is none,
only tracks on the ocean foam.

Is this the entire poem? I don’t know. It could be a fragment, but if it is, it is remarkably self-contained.

In the meantime, I will continue along the path that is no path, that is being wiped out by the ocean foam even as I make tracks—toward what end? At least the water feels cool to my bare feet.