NARA PARK

I

Ducks skitter
across Ara-ike pond
like a perfectly thrown
skipping stone.
Two sit and preen
on large rocks
left as pedestals.
A spider
dragging its prey
along the weathered
wood railing
of the bridge
pauses for a moment
to contemplate ducks,
then moves on
consumed by hunger.

II

Several deer
languish among the
wizened Japanese vendors
at the foot of the gate
to the Five Story Pagoda.
They stare at me
as I pass
and I wonder
if all Nippon
and Gaijin
look the same
to a buck or doe.

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