COMPARISONS

It was Henry Miller who said
that the principal difference
between a sage and a preacher
is one thing: gaiety,
and I suppose the same
could be said of the difference
between the monk
and the wealthy man.
It was in a small temple
nestled in a courtyard
of three office towers
in the heart of Shinjuku
at the end of a hard run,
four laps around city hall
and the park, pushing it
up the slight hills, trying
to max out on the flats,
dripping sweat, struggling
to catch my breath,
I run my fingers across
the giant brass bell
trying hard to grab
the still morning air
to feel the deep resonance
that ripples the quiescent
breeze that whispers
across the paving stones.
The priest, in beige robes
steps from the barred doors
and bows before me.
“You should smile,” he says:
“it will not ease the pain,
but you must always
fall down seven times
and rise to your feet eight.”

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