Breaking a promise to the Jade Buddha, Shanghai

A reclining Buddha at the Jade Buddha Temple in Shanghai China. Photo: Steve46814, CC BY-SA 3.0

In your presence, I am
moved to swear off

attachment. So I leave
without photos

and go to the temple
yard where fuzzy

chicks cheep in a wood box
not far from monks

on mats. More birds outside
the gates – on roofs,

in the park, in cages,
the ragged cry

of a magpie, the smell
of fried chicken

wafting from a market
where ceramic

masks and golden dragons
shine on clean white

tables. I stop to buy
a red silk robe.

Categories Poetry

Nathaniel Cairney is an American poet and novelist who lives in Belgium. His chapbook Singing Dangerously of Sinking was a finalist for the 2021 Saguaro Prize in Poetry, and his poems have been published in The Cardiff Review, Midwest Review, Broad River Review and others.

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