THE BUDDHIST TEMPLE AT NARA

On the steps of the Temple
the unexpected morning snow
which cast a threadbare blanket
over the gates and lanterns
recedes slowly like a supplicant
whose prayers have been offered.
The candle flames shiver
in the strong February wind
while the Buddha sits, implacable.
In the park below a dragon kite
takes the wind and swoops and darts
higher and higher, staring down
at the Temple and the children laughing
as they chase each other among the trees.
It is gold, red and  black
reflecting the sun, the fires
of heaven dance down
over the head of the gold robed priests
who bow while chanting the prayer cards
yet look up and smile at the serpent
who dips his tail to the enlightened one
and tears off after a cloud.

 

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