Temple relics – Jena Woodhouse

The banners of red-painted wood
are worm-eaten. Some of the characters
have been effaced:
‘The God’s might is clear and grand,
bathed in a thousand autumns’
sacrifices.’ Presented to the temple
by Zhang Yaokui
on ‘an auspicious winter’s day’.

In raiments white as porcelain,
a study in tranquillity,
Kuan Yin bears the light of inner grace,
her precinct a museum alcove,
glass-encased: Goddess of Mercy,
lustrous as a pearl,
whose milk fills every grain of rice
and feeds the world.