Photo from Kyoto


The whiteness of the sand’s stark,
coaxial ripples surrounding the midnight

of perfectly-placed rocks, almost an assault
to the eyes; the green sigh of hedges

the only respite. There is no mist, yet
you could swear on a stack of bibles

there’s cold steam rising, as you back slowly
from the temple. You’d tossed all the coins

you had into the offering box, clapped twice,
bowed twice, then said a prayer to your god

as gossamer ghosts lined the walls, crowded
around the red columns—none you recognized

because we drag our own ghosts behind us,
a U-Haul trailer packed expertly

with the flickering light of recollection:
that perfect moment reading aloud in bed,

tucked into the folds of one another; or
your mother smiling down at you,

as she brushes hair back from your forehead
You should show that beautiful face; or

the sweetness in your son’s five-year-old hands
massaging your shoulders after a long shift

on your feet; each memory’s shimmer
changing color, brightness, saturation

with every bump and switchback in the road,
just as the things we’ve lost gather meaning,

grow in stature and importance: the childhood
Teddy bear gone astray cannot be replaced. Yet,

even the ache of loss emits a cool radiance
which, eventually, warms us, because

in the end, grief is just love continuing;
feeding its own fire.

The temple
ghosts want nothing from you, except

perhaps to be seen. So, you bow to them
from the waist, probably too low, too long,

as you back slowly from the temple, turn,
and, this is the picture you keep: The white

of the sand’s coaxial ripples which surround
the midnight of perfectly-placed rocks.

What are you looking for?