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For Soen Nakagawa

I fall asleep and float to the zendo after the big city
where bright colors like Tibetan prayer flags
flap inverting to complementarity's prime.
Returning from the big city monastery
I find the sister who is warm-though
her Big & Tall shop girl locks
be shorn. She sits beside me,
rubs my bald pate, as if
our bench were festooned
with a confetti of pink and white
early blossoms, as if
we were elderly newly-weds.

Inside, we look about at the red walls
and silently agree, "We must get more colors
into this place." She stops humming.
Little sister yells, "How can you care
about colors of walls?" Ho-Hum.
There must be more discipline,
or our work will not go on.

There down the hall, in the kitchen,
Auntie is there-it seems,
purely to inspect a duffle kit,
Mother's factory retirement papers,
a few needles, some thread.

We leave for the big monastery
all crammed into a VW bug--
The gate is closing! --I must
rush up the long, uphill walk
as the sisters stand by
and my mother and auntie
turn to depart, humming Ho-Hum.


Copyright 2003 Jim McCurry


More Poetry
The Pure Land
A poem about B
Laconic Supernumeraries

Notes on Concierto de Aranjuez



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