A Temple In The World
Bruised early, easily, that mangoed air
corrupted in the senses, burdened them.
Everything trampled in the press of rain
surrendered—daily, in the season—fresh
intoxication, pungency, decay.
Deduced from stamps, outdated Geographics,
and the green, asthmatic short-wave radio
that hacked and lisped through breakfast, touting news
of riots in L.A., of Vietnam,
of dollar bill and multiplying yen
neck-tight in some spectacular embrace,
of Latin floods, of Russian treachery:
this was the raucous, spoiling, calling world.
The meditative Buddhas did not look up,
but thought their patient thoughts impassively,
releasing all. Billowing, reddish dust
flew up around the temple and came down
and then flew up and then came down again
and settled upon the Buddhas and the just.
But I was only twelve, I didn’t think
of justice—in so many words, that is.
I did think of the baleful scrutiny
of sunlight, that would find me out to chase
me in by noon, my temples cramped with heat.
There was a cool swamp under our stilted house,
and on my Ra of inner-tubes and slats
I poled the fetid latitudes, slipping
between lily-pads to a continent
of frogs, and their wide-eyed, huffed indifference.