Seokguram Temple (revisited)

watch the spell
these  mountains
clarify our breath, that
is the sea over there

in this grotto, guardians
of broken stone can’t stop
tourists, nor the thief who pried
loose the jewel once in Buddha’s brow

at sunrise, they say you could
stand just inside doors opened wide
toward sea, and the first ray of sun
reflected from Buddha’s ajna eye
would strike your own, enlightening
you; did it strike the thief that way?

late bees work yellow flowers
cicadas chant about leaves

when humans have to
walk again, when buses cease
to climb, maybe we will clear
old spider monks from temples

patch stone guardians
build mighty new buddhas
or simply walk, in song cicada small
among bees worshipping yellow flowers
these mountains, our breath, the sea.

This poem, originally published in Fifth World Drum (Frontenac House, 2009), is part of a series inspired by a visit to Korea as part of a delegation from Edmonton Arts Council, hosted by the Wonju-shi Arts Council in Gangwon-do, Republic of Korea. This picture, courtesy of Yeon Woo Lee (on, reminds me of the view from Seokguram.

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