scroll

I’d been asked
to talk on Chan
at the Ashmolean
there was a calligrapher there
Bing Nan Li
he had no English

a group milled about
I decided to begin
and called their attention
with a bell
and chanting

when I sang
the ancient tunes
the three refuges
the four great vows
the traditional Chinese
he came close and sat
I sensed his emotion
in his demeanour

after my talk
a noise
about silence
the translator
came to tell me
the man had decided
to give me a scroll
the Heart Sutra
she was
consternated
saying the artifact
was precious

not feeling worthy
I put that aside
and accepted
whatever the gesture meant
to him
was a mystery
not to be
evaluated

Bing Nan Li-Ashmolean
Heart Sutra scroll
Heart Sutra wikipedia