Saturday, March 17, 2018

monastic mirth

In cold January rain—
which will soon turn to snow—
in Pacific Northwest damp,
three pilgrims and one monk,
named for the inventor of the question mark,
gather around illuminated writings,
shared awe bursting into
uncontained, unconfined, unedited
laughter.
Spilling out their lungs uncontrollably,
filling the small vault,
peals of joy crossing the divides
between man and woman
monk and lay
student and teacher.
Common being discovered
in one event of communion,
one joy, shared.

My face is contorted into folds
of that deep laughter that springs
up from our deepest wells,
and holds us paralyzed
in its convulsions.
The monk removes his white gloves—
for handling delicate matters
like kid and vellum—
and wipes tears of mirth
from his eyes.
We let the peals exhaust themselves,
stray quiet laughs hiccup out of us.
We resume our business of examining
ancient illuminations and antique coins.
But our eyes twinkle with one common joy.

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