AN ENDLESS KNOT

You are surprised when the young man
approaches you, his saffron robes
a bit faded, his sandals more
worn flip-flops, his smiling face
almost too happy for a cool morning
on the rough pavement of a street
in Vienna, cafes pressing the curb.
He isn’t begging, not like at home, at least,
but he does bow and offer a plastic
amulet, and you a few euros in exchange,
as much out of guilt as charity,
but cognizant that this is likely
just another scam, there is no Temple
being rebuilt in Myanmar, no monks
chanting your favor as the stupa rises.
Later, as night sets in, back on the boat
and heading up river, you think you see a man
sitting lotus on the shore, smiling at you,
saying, “it is all intention, and yours
was honorable,” as you palm the amulet
in your pocket, the same one that now
sits on your desk in the corner
where you keep careful eye on your karma.

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