Poem: Alms Round Tu Hieu Temple, Hue, Vietnam

By Beth Sanchez mb40-Alms1

Again the loaves and fishes multiply on this morning with no time for breakfast the road to Tu Hieu thickly lined with common folk draped in robes like so many gray doves

We file down the road, we foreigners we brothers and sisters, members of one body slow steps deep breaths soft smiles we are here to show the homeland that their practice is worth it

We ease past kitchen tables, pulled onto the street and loaded up with presents here are bags of cooked rice and mushrooms cheery tangerines leaf swathed sweets Chinese candies throughout

The old women flash black teeth their eyes pale with age and memories of war the babies in silk suits and hands of all sizes folded at the heart pair after pair after pair the givers queue as far as the eye can see they offer the lotus bow and sneak in a dumpling this one gives a peanut candy, that one a bean cake another slides round to slip a box of juice into a sister’s bag

All at once their eyes grow bright something in the air sings out I turn to look at the river of monks serenely flowing our teacher flanked by attendants trying to contain the rush of givers the reverse pickpockets of his own beloved town

He steps One Small Brown Clog and then the next a new heart cracked  open step by monumental step starting with my own

Suddenly everyone is giving everything to everyone I give a yogurt I get a cake! I offer a box of milk And a whole meal appears The fruits are flowing everywhere The mind of love is here

The smiling nuns are weighted with the fullness of this love a monk uses his upturned hat as a receiving vessel he can barely carry the cornucopia he smiles he breathes he walks through the land of milk and honey wondering knowing always that the giver, the receiver, and the received are one.

Beth A. Sanchez, Seeds of  Awakening Sangha, Louisville, Colorado.

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