Han Shan, Cold Mountain, that Zen sage
1200 years ago enjoyed a view from his cave
better than the Emperor saw when he
looked out his windows in the Forbidden City.
Han Shan also used–with the other monks
from the caves around his– a heated pool
at least four times a month.
Living in his own stench was not his style.
And then there was Noah John Rondeau,
rooted deep in the mountains on Cold River,
his hut on display in the Adirondack museum today.
There were times when he trekked down
to Albany to sportsman shows and
gladly shared his loneliness with everyone.
One of the best things, he famously said,
about being a hermit is the people you meet.
Now, in these times of forced isolation,
I wonder how many of those old loners
simply sought to embrace humanity closer.
— Joseph Bruchac
Editor’s note: Joseph Bruchac is an author, educator and Abenaki elder and storyteller. This poem is part of Adirondack Center for Writing’s annual Poem Village project. Published by permission of the author.