The Emerald Buddha
is not made of emerald
but a kind of green
and mutton coloured jadestone.
Nor is it a Buddha,
though seated on a gilded throne
above our heads;
though presented every year
with new robes by the King himself;
though credited with magical powers
of healing and the allocation of wealth;
though without any doubt
the guardian and protector of the Kingdom;
though guarded by soldiers.
It is a carved image
of a seated man,
an icon, an atavistic talisman,
the spoil of wars between Thai and Lao.
It is a footprint,
a thousand years of history.
For the past 700 years,
the spirit of Kru Ba,
an old toothless monk in a brown robe,
has lived in the image.
When asked about his motive,
he replies, “I want to help people.”