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Trina Gaynon

True Relic

 

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 Third Millennium.