In the Garden at Hsi Lai Temple

This was a another time in my life it took me years to be able to write at all about. When Luke and I split up, it was a quiet and polite parting. We truly did part as friends, if rather awkward ones. It was definitely a case of neither of us wanting it to end, but it ending anyway. We spent most of our last day together at the temple, and somehow that sudden burst of insight into our fragility made the going a little less miserable. Everything is fragile. It wasn’t only us.

***

In the Garden at Hsi Lai Temple

for Luke

Who digs Los Angeles, is Los Angeles! — Allen Ginsberg

And she never could walk away from anywhere without
Stopping to blow it a kiss, so in the morning before
Her flight left, they went to the temple together,
Hand in hand as if that would help.

And there sat the bodhisattva, bedecked in red and gold,
One slender hand held out, and flanked by gilded scholars
And guardians of the dead, receiving the clouds each
Visitor paid a palmful of coins for.

And in the instant of lighting the nag champa sticks, she
Saw them for themselves, for the warm and hairy beings
That they were, made from saltwater and the muck from
Which the lotus rises, each an awkward enormity of head
At the tip of an impossibly fragile stalk.

2016

(photo: temple website — I hope they won’t mind)

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