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Page 9
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<< 8. Mallory's Musings10. The Story of a Memorial >>

The Old Monk (poem)

By David Sangrund

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Years ago,
in Viet Nam
Caught in a flood
with kids,
their teachers,
The whole first floor
covered in muddy red water

rain, rain, rain

Buddha statue
at the entrance
built freakishly high
the grey stone sage
meditating, serene, dry

rain rain rain

On the muddy road
I saw an ancient monk
Passing the school
his eyes mostly white
accompanied by a young monk
both in bright orange cloaks;
I approached them politely.
The old monk returned my greeting
"Xin chào tín chủ"

I offered money
young monk declined
money accepted at the
Temple only...
The old monk
produced his own
sent the young one
into a store
for a soda and cigarette

As they walked on
The old monk chanted:
mưa, mưa, mưa
tuổi già, chiu dung và chết chóc
"mưa, mưa, mưa
"nhà tù, tổ chức, và cái chết"
mưa, mưa, mưa

rain, rain, and rain
"old age, suffering, and death"
rain, rain, and rain
"jails, institutions, and death"

rain rain rain

Now in my mind's eye
I see the serene stone Buddha
engulfed by the rain
up to its chest
in muddy water...
even the Buddha
cannot stop the rain,

that ancient monk is gone
he too could not stop the rain
but the two of us
have that in common;
I could not stop the rain so
I sent a friend
to get me a soda,
but no cigarettes

—David Sandgrund

<< 8. Mallory's Musings10. The Story of a Memorial >>