The Buddha at Kamakura

The Buddha at Kamakura

A moon-faced child falls from the sky,
   his hair
like a black pool
darkening the stones of the temple:
The Buddha imagines his birth.

A white butterfly lands on his finger,
shimmering in the morning light:
   the wings of childhood
caught in the amber of memory:
A fleeting glimpse of lost happiness.

Lines of schoolgirls,
swaying like centipedes,
crawl up the pedestal -
   their shouts,
red gaping holes
in the black screen of his mind:
Thought like a beak
closes on darkness.

At the foot of the statue
a speckled beetle
moves slowly over the cement:
a speck of time
   crossing
the stillness of his mind.
Under his sunlit gaze
   reality unfolds.

Beyond the dream,
inside the massive bronze head,
   the slitted eyes,
absolute emptiness:
The smile of the Buddha
   unseen.

– Chidananda Burke.

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