Order of Effects

Another twentieth-century morning:
one nutria, one alligator,
one eight hundred-year-old Buddha
stolen from north of Beijing
and sold to oversee this swamp pond,
this once upon a time on a salt dome,
the nutria swimming through scum, skirting
the gator’s dulled, antediluvian weight,
then circling, satiated, back to shore.

Shadows flex around me as clouds pass.
Buddha sees each this, each that, keeps
his alien smile like ever after. Happy,
I disarrange some gravel and leave.


Brad Richard
from his book Habitations
Portals Press, 2000

reprinted with permission of the poet

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