A Hundred Gourds 4:4 September 2015

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Sonam Chhoki - Bhutan

How to untie the knot inside

“Overwrought,” the Laughing Buddha says, swiping my head with his voluminous brocade sleeve.

“I can’t think or write and you mock me!” I cry.

He rubs his bounteous belly, “hmm . . . let me see . . .”

“My hunger is for words!” I say pointedly.

He peers at me, his pate glistening in the moonlight. “You ride the ridge of pride too hastily,” he tuts.

I slump back on the pillow.

“You parrot poetical voices of the past,” he says.

I sit up to protest. He continues with another wave of his sleeve. ”Your mind is all tangled in Milarepa, Rumi and Tagore.”

“Should I empty my mind of these?” I look askance at the thought. Surely, I have misheard.

“Fill it with it now,” he says, opening his arms in an expansive sweep.

Something stirs in me.

He nods and murmurs, Feel the quilt against your cheek. See the curve of the lammergeier's wings quivering in the wind. Smell the rain in the sodden fields, in the ripening paddy.”

I listen in enraptured silence.

“If sleep eludes you, write about it. If you can’t write, write about that too.”

Tears prickle the corners of my eyes.

“Write about your tears,” he whispers with a smile.

I wake up to the sound of the municipal truck clanging and beeping by the street bins.

breathless morning . . .
the swallowtail drinks
from a blade of grass

veer of wind
rippling the incline
gamboge hemlock globes

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