Wong Wei Cong

The Fifteen Stones of Ryoan-ji

The windless surface of the pond was broken
Rippling across the stump of an ancient pine
Loosed petals whipped into a restless gyre
Bending before the feeble notes of a flute
The sky melted into a stick of incense
A wolf delivered his dirge to the virgin darkness
The conqueror wept into his reflection in the teacup

The dissonant rain upon metrical rice terraces
Hewed longing furrows unto the hermit’s brow
Washed the blood of the poet from his withered stanzas

The monk arranged plum blossoms upon a crumbling
A gong interrupted the wandering dreams of lovers

The sand-swept soul lay in unmoving waves
The exiled wren stilled its proud wings and listened
The stone, hidden in eternal shadow, laughed.


Writer’s Note: Ryoan-ji is a Zen temple in Kyoto,
Japan, known for the seemingly 
composition of fifteen stones in its garden, which
evokes a sense of 
aesthetic beauty in its simplicity
and asymmetry. The stones, of different sizes, 
arranged in groups of five, two, three, two, and
three. It is said that when 
viewed from any angle
(except from a bird’s eye view), one stone is
always hidden 
from view, and is only revealed
when one attains enlightenment.

Ryoanji rock garden

Wei Cong is an aspiring writer and an
undergraduate medical student. Besides
frustrating himself with the messy, intimate
workings of the human body, he likes to tangle
himself in the messy, intimate workings of
the human soul.