Poetry Books By   Kritya publication

See the link  

 

 

By Tsering Wangmo Dhompa

 

The Water Song


M's mother was so beautiful her father hid her in a box. I choose to believe this version of a story even though reason compels me to question the existence of one such box. Wooden or steel. Details make it permanent.
Cement roofs do not entertain the reality of rain. Only when the curtain is drenched do you acknowledge it.
I am reminded of Jetsun, how after dipping her feet in the Ganges, thought she felt a little flutter in her head.
After my hands are washed, I undo my altar. The offered is erased from possession even as it remains.
After the dishes are put away, after the curtains are drawn, some woman will make love.
It is not the knowing but the moment after saying ab that pleases.
A ritual is a place of wisdom. In time you learn how much water exactly fills seven prayer bowls.
Somewhere must be a photo of M's mother. When I see it, I will understand why M never told me she jumped from a bridge and tried to take a Chinese soldier with her.

A lama said I was her reincarnation. I have the same underestimated will. M's will is a more flamboyant so it is suggested I learn from her.
Horses, a French man once said, see only one path. He was also referring to me.
After losing an image, you learn to live in sentences.
The new jug for the prayer bowl does not know its own ability to contain water.
Everything is isolated. And dependent.
 

*

Third Lesson


When the elder died in her sleep, Samten was dancing to Nepalese rap under looms suspended at an abandoned carpet factory.
No explanations were made by the Tibetan doctor. Impermanence, he said when asked for the fourth time.
The elders swarmed in greys and browns. Brought rituals to keep his mother's wandering soul in non-life. Too many illusions, they said, in bardo
Food and sweet juniper incense were sent to the scattered mother out in the garden.
No more tears, the lama said. It is the dead who suffer, not the living. He said the departed one's senses were magnified. She wasn't aware of her own death. Think of her living in death. Think of her in her imagined body.
For forty-eight days, Samten lived with prayers and clung to her new birth.
Later he remembered how his body had refused to move at a certain moment on the dance floor. His head, he said, had not adhered to the beat he had practiced to. He was all out of step with his partner.

When the elder died in her sleep, Samten was dancing to Nepalese rap under looms suspended at an abandoned carpet factory.
No explanations were made by the Tibetan doctor. Impermanence, he said when asked for the fourth time.
The elders swarmed in greys and browns. Brought rituals to keep his mother's wandering soul in non-life. Too many illusions, they said, in bardo
Food and sweet juniper incense were sent to the scattered mother out in the garden.
No more tears, the lama said. It is the dead who suffer, not the living. He said the departed one’s senses were magnified. She wasn't aware of her own death. Think of her living in death. Think of her in her imagined body.
For forty-eight days, Samten lived with prayers and clung to her new birth.
Later he remembered how his body had refused to move at a certain moment on the dance floor. His head, he said, had not adhered to the beat he had practiced to. He was all out of step with his partner.

Hibernation

Grass was refusing growth in eastern Tibet. The rainmaster struck his damaru1 lay his cheek against the river and called for rain.
M said life too was a matter of preparation and
adjustment. We lit butter lamps at the stupa and watched
a trickle of light gather on the Buddha’s eyebrows. Butter smog as air.


The Tara statue had tears in her eyes. The caretaker produced the piece of scrap paper he had used to wipe it off. Words ran into each other where water touched ink like meandering veins in a frayed wrist. The monk blessed himself with it as I read:
100 : kilos of sugar
100 : packets of Taj Tea. Total = 2,000 rupees.

For days people stood in line to give offerings to the statue. Prayers fell as the spine of streets were wet for weeks. M kept us close to her, burned incense all day and s something was in the air. Water continued to thrash the gullies.

Mosquitoes chewed  the night to pieces. Then sunlight.
The elders said the chief oracle of the Tibetan government in exile had predicted we were closer to negotiations but he could hear cries of women slicing the air before him. When he dropped to the floor, he h a hint of a smile. M said no place was safe and off ere the first burst of marigolds to the deities.

Very little made sense. News came of a day's rain in the east.
After life. After life. So elders comb their prayers beads.


1- small two-faced ritual drum

Tsering Wangmo Dhompa grew up in Dharamsala, India and Kathmandu, Nepal. She completed her BA and MA from Lady Shri Ram College, New Delhi, and received an MFA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. Tsering is the author of two books of poems, Rules ofthe House and In theAbsentEveryday and two chapbooks, In Writing the Names, and Recurring Gestures. Tsering works for the American Himalayan Foundation and lives in San Francisco.
 

 


My Voice | Poetry In Our Time | In The Name Of Poetry | Editor's Choice | Our Masters  Who We Are | Back Issues | Submission | Contact Us | Home