Zen Monks Sweeping the Floor
In Front of a Huge Statue of the Buddha

                                                    Concentration within activity
                                             Excels that within stillness
                                             A hundred, thousand, million times

I like to watch them,
the changing dimensions of their red robes,
their faces filled with calm abiding,
how their bare feet
move in and out of sunbeams,
the long strokes of the monks’ brooms
as they cross the big space,
the short delightful strokes
as they poke into corners,
and how, sometimes, a smile
flickers across the monks’ faces
one to another, like the light
in one of Monet’s seascapes
glistening from wave to wave,
nothing better to do in all the world,
and I like the monks’ shaven heads,
filled with koans yet to be solved,
the bending and releasing of the brooms
scattering before them particles of dust
into the Buddha’s react gaze.

-Dick Allen (first published in Freshwater)

Categories: Poems & Photos

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