Lined up in a museum case at the Bowers,
Holy light and dark playing across their surfaces:
One fierce iron locker stained with rust which protected
The silver-gilt casket decorated with forty-five buddhas
Which sheltered the crystal coffin, where once
That translucent white jade reliquary nested.
Its ancient treasure no longer rests within.
Yet hushed reverence floats around the gallery.
Sifted out of cremation remains in India,
Buried under a Chinese pagoda, a finger bone,
Preserved in eight nesting boxes, each swaddled in silk,
Consecrated a temple for over a thousand years,
Through destruction and restoration and abandonment.
That hollow ivory bone draws crowds to it,
Whether at home surrounded by a grand stupa
Or sent out on pilgrimage to friendly nations.
Strip away the debate about its authenticity.
Chase off the crowds of tourists waiting in line.
Remove the stupa over the pagoda, and the pagoda.
Rest beside the reflecting pool that would mirror only sky.
Imagine clasping the finger of the Buddha
While stumbling along the Middle Way.
Trina Gaynon stumbled into Qi Gong, Meditation, and Yoga
through community education classes in California. Her poems have appeared in the anthologies
Bombshells and Knocking at the Door, as well as numerous journals including Natural
Bridge, Reed and the final issue of
Runes. Her chapbook An Alphabet of Romance is available from Finishing Line
Press. Forthcoming publications in anthologies include: A Ritual to Read
Together: Poems in Conversation with William Stafford, Saint Peter’s B-list:
Contemporary Poems Inspired by the Saints, Obsession: Sestinas for the 21st
Century, and Phoenix Rising from the Ashes: Anthology of Sonnets of the Early