At the Buddhist Temple

Carol Alexander


A girl absorbs the rituals of loss.
In a storefront temple 6,869 miles
from Kyoto where her father's father drew a name on white,
she weeps dry ice, crystals faceting her cheeks.

She's learned the origami articulation of fingers in kitchen pidgin,
kanji ideograms in a drawer, pollock spread on the butcher block. 
Only here is rupture— a broken set of red dishes for a boy,
a torn photograph of a little sword. The girl starts to bleed.

Here is giving up.  All but the syllables themselves
and night slouching over Brooklyn, and the temple bells.

Tomorrow he'll depart as smoke in his skin of eel
and chopsticks will tease his bones from ash.
There's more than lacquered sky and furred smoke to parse.
Say, a bead of water on a knife cleaving mounds of rice.


Carol Alexander is the author of the poetry collections Environments (Dos Madres Press) and Habitat Lost (Cave Moon Press). Her chapbook Bridal Veil Falls is published by Flutter Press. Alexander's poems appear in a variety of anthologies and journals such as The American Journal of Poetry, Bluestem, Canary, The Common, Cumberland River Review, Gravel, Rise Up Review, The Main Street Rag, San Pedro River Review, Split Rock Review, Soundings East, South Florida Poetry Journal, One, Southern Humanities Review, Stonecoast Review, and Third Wednesday.

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