First Act

“When I reached the Che-La after fleeing Norbulingka, I turned back to gaze at Lhasa and looking in the direction of the Potala said, ‘Goodbye.” Later, I realised that I could have died, which wouldn’t have been of any help; instead we escaped and survived.” ~ His Holiness the Dalai Lama, 2013

On the first day we pick the lint
from each other’s sleeves and pack them into balls;
this is mostly to make a distraction from tears.

On the fourth day someone speaks of inventory: by which
he means a listing of the ways in which parts of the world
that we know could not completely disappear in six months.

In a fortnight, the old appetites
of animals that prowled our dreams come out,
proclaiming the beginning of their holidays.

Out in the open,
the young continue to knit defiant fingers together.
They shield their beautiful children with green eyes

and mixed skin from whips of spittle sailing
out of some foaming mouth on the train station.
We sit with girls carrying their hearts

like birds inside floral headscarves.
We look for translators among us
for the construction worker

needing a course of physical therapy. Dolor
de hombro
means pain of the shoulder: so the doctor
says punch your arm up like you’re raising

a fist at a rally.
Make little crosses in the air
and when lightning tears across the proscenium

look around. We might not believe
in salvation but we can pull at the fabric
until all the remaining light from the sky falls in.

 

In response to Via Negativa: Renewal.

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