MEMORIAL

This woman approaches
the stone, carefully places
sake and cherry blossoms
and leans a sotoba against it,
before bowing and walking away.
It is what you do for a son,
she says, looking at the bibbed Jizo
hoping she can protect
the child who lies beneath.

That woman approaches
the headstone,
gently places the flowers
and leans a prayer card
against its polished surface,
kneels briefly, looking up
at the statue of the Son
who also died for our sins,
begs him to protect.
the child who lies beneath.

A DRY GARDEN LAUGHING

In the heart of Nara Park
there is a five story pagoda.
Deer appear, standing sentinel
along the lantern lined walk.
Up the unseen hill
the Temple bell announces
the full arrival of morning
as the Golden Buddha awakens.
Young children can see
all of this through eyes
unlensed, and fetter free.
They watch clouds
release a cascade
of tiny maple leaves
which flow over sitting monks,
a stream washing spring
into the waiting valley.
I sit with my granddaughter
in the center of a dry garden.
The Jizo will watch us.
The three of us throw
leaves into the air
as the wrens echo our laughter
in a five tiered cacophony