Japanese Temple

What is it to wear orange
and walk in wood
sandalled feet
on sanded floors meticulously
laid a millennium
or more before?

To chant in words passed
down with prayer
from even longer?

To walk beside the trees,
rocks, gardens placed
with care for every
angle, colour, leaf, space, season
by masters
of design and meaning?

Centuries of moss greening
greening boughs
boughs twisting
twisting hands
hands clipping
clipping leaves
leaves turning
turning hope
hope springing
springing nature
nature murmuring
murmuring monks
monks nurturing

Five pass briskly,
single file
on antique sandals,
sunset robes and black umbrellas.
Young men so far
far from phones,
computers, bullet
trains. Minds tuned,
instead, to nature
and the universe.

Is it their steadfast,
undistracted concentration
that keeps this wild,
unbridled world
upon its axis
holding still the centre?  

November 2015