The Lotus-copter: Happy Birthday, Buddha! Won't you take me down to heaven on a midnight ride?
It's late; I'm preparing for tomorrow's classes, when the sounds of music waft through my window. The sifting, ratcheting beats of Korean traditional drum music, crowd sounds and chanting. The sounds of dancing. I turn back to work, and Dr. Park calls: "Loren! Where are you? Do you hear the music? I'm in the street. Come outside!" I wanna move. Jongno isn't just for protests: tonight is celebration, procession: Buddhist Lamp Festival!
Group after group of lamp-bearers and illuminated floats marches by. I see no end to the parade, and edge into the street to take some photos. A band of smiling drum dancers in traditional garb diverts the march around me, makes me dance inside. I wanna move. Playin in a travelin band. Yeah! Well, I'm flyin cross the land, tryin to get a hand, playin in a travelin band!
I find Dr. Park, and this molten float catches my eye:
"Oh do not ask what is it..."
Buddha's Ark passes by -- nice visit!
Me: "What is going on? What is this?
Dr. Park: "It's Buddhist Christmas"
Some bearers stop to give the floats a whirl
"See? What they're saying is like "Merry Christmas"
I think I can, I think I can
"SAVE THE EARTH"
Polar Bear Buddha!
I wonder what Buddha wants for his birthday?
Kind souls give candy and lamps: a Festival of Lights
And there is much rejoicing
A whole week of holidays--in Japan too, it's "Golden Week." I'm looking forward to "Children's Day" May 5th. Shouldn't the whole world have a "Children's Day"?
Just now a student absent from Poetry as a Second Language sends me her poem -- look at the title: what timing!
In the Bodhisattva Stone Cave
A solitary walk along the woody path
to the ancient Guanyin stone cave at night
for one thousand eighty bows in vigil
to rid all my delusion sprouting.
A sylvan abode I keep building
to lodge, to cling; attachment to life.
The haloed moon beaming
in the shrouded hours of the autumn air velveting,
the rain drizzling bathes
the wearied leaves of the oak trees praying.
I glimpse my adamantine heart
palled, in leaden griefs of the past, soaked.
A dim eaves lamp at the porch of the cave
luring a flock of blind fireflies,
keen blades of rain scattering
swaying curtains of the mystic mist.
I muse on things I do not see
that I can in mindsight in deepened light.
Into the sandalwood scent of a lighted incense
weaving in the whirling pine winds,
Bodhisattva on the garland altar exudes
her benevolent sheens of compassion in quietude.
I bow for my grave, little sins
against all beings I loved and loved not.
Ah, a bright yellow moth shimmering
its gold jewels on its dew-ridden wings,
drifts in and sits with high art, engraving, “timeless”
on the thousand year old, ashen gray limestone wall.
I hang my fugitive heavy heart
onto the boundless wheel of aeon’s universe, turning.
Wakened I and the sagacious moth (Guanyin beaconed in)
sharing this peaceful haven on this auspicious night,
our hearts lightening, freed and winged,
dispelling the hardened mass of simple darkness, dawning.
I vow to attain peace, to liberate my soul
from prison of fears and fetters
in my living life, loving
In Seoul, the guest is king.
It's been a great week.
The world is a narrow bridge.
Time to get back in the Lotus-copter!
Thank you for having me.