Bell Bowl
Miriam Sagan

Someone gave it to him.
So he used it to eat out of.
Rice. Vegetables. Born in Queens,
Raised in north Jersey
It is not easy to transform
Yourself into a Buddhist monk.
Still, he tried patiently, without
Direct instruction
Only that which could be gotten from books.
Years later, when his beard was cut but before
His head was shaved, someone else pointed out to him
That this small copper colored metal bowl was not for eating at all
Actually, it was a bell bowl. If you hit it with a little stick
It resonated, a sound that of itself—built, swelled,
Diminished, vanished—a clear tone—
Like something approaching and
Then departing. Later, he died
And left the bowl to me, although
Not exactly on purpose.
I rarely play it, and I never
Eat from it, a bowl the size of a skullcap
Decorated with a few dim circles
Criss-cross of golden mean
Some random dots
That seem to cluster
Then thin out
Like thinking of the past.

 

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