The Return

Bird eyes animals birds


Stiff, stifled, stuffed

Barricaded and boxed in.

A chair-shaped caricature of myself,

Imprisoned in flesh, slowly dying,

To get out.


I did not know.

I did not know, that day.

I did not know that, when

I looked into the eyes of an owl, that day

I would find

Nature, looking back.


Swept up, in a suspension

Of time and space.

A suspension of disbelief,

Of beliefs

An eternal moment, beyond knowing.

Beyond unknowing

Knower and known, not-two.


Returning to myself,

man walks away.

Silent wings

Carry me home.


Poem by Gregory Ripley

Greg is the author of Tao of Sustainability and Voice of the Elders. He lives in Minnesota with his wife, daughters, and two huskies. Greg is a certified Nature and Forest Therapy Guide with the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy. In previous lives he’s worked as an acupuncturist in Minnesota, an organic farmer in New Mexico, and a barista in Tennessee, among other things. Greg has spent many years studying with Buddhist and Daoist teachers and is initiated in the Quanzhen Longmen lineage of Daoism.