This poem was inspired by the square "free" on my first card for the Cottoncandy Bingo fest. (Aaaaand blackout! This was the last square, which I can now officially declare filled.) It has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette. It belongs to the series Kung Fu Robots, which you can explore further on the Serial Poetry page.
After the kung fu robots had
escaped from their cruel commander,
they did not know what to do with themselves.
They only knew how to be soldiers,
and how to do kung fu,
and that the Way was not about fighting.
These were the memory files
that Citron accessed as it sat in the courtyard.
The miller of Peach Blossom Spring Village
had cleverly modified a water wheel
to provide power for the robot,
but the power came through a tether
which left Citron stuck in the courtyard.
All around, the villagers walked past
and the children ran laughing,
parting around Citron like a stream around a stone.
The robot greatly appreciated their hospitality,
but found it difficult not to envy their freedom.
The old woman who was to serve as mentor
in flower arranging came to sit beside Citron.
She laid out a basket of flowers
and a row of paper cones. As people stopped,
White Peony would make a bouquet
and tuck it into one of the cones,
explaining the symbolism of the flowers.
This was far more soothing than soldier work,
but Citron remained restless.
"How do you like the water wheel?"
White Peony asked presently.
"It provides adequate power," Citron said,
but the attachment bothers me.
The water wheel goes around and around
like the Dharma Wheel, without going anywhere.
I wish that I could have both power and freedom."
"Before you go wishing for freedom,"
White Peony said to the robot,
"perhaps you should consider
why you wish for it."
Citron thought about that for long seconds,
but was unable to articulate an answer.
White Peony, the robot admitted to itself,
had posed a most excellent koan.