“In my father’s dwelling three lotus ponds were made purposely for me. Blue lotuses bloomed in one, red in another, and white in the third. I used no sandalwood that was not of Kaasi. …Night and day a white parasol was held over me so that I might not be touched by heat or cold, dust, leaves or dew.”
Does it make it easier to renounce a thing
when you know you could always come back to it?
Does it salve the conscience to throw away a gift
when you tell yourself there’s always more
where that came from? Does it make you braver
to say you are burning that bridge, walking
away from the stays of family and kin, the arms
of a lover; the leaf-shaded neighborhood where you
played with friends in childhood, the village
that knew you and everyone else by name?
Is your body more comforted by thin garments
worn alike in sun and rain and winter chill?
Does it satisfy your hunger to eat a meal
begged for plating on a leaf instead of on china
laid on a linen-covered table? And is a small
mound of rice sprinkled with salt more filling
a repast than a rich stew flavored with cardamom
and butter? Do you recall, in college not so long ago,
your literature teacher describing the tragic hero
as someone whose eventual fall from grace is made
more trenchant because he has something to lose?
Isn’t it true that everything spurned with such
careful intention turns into a more industrious
ambassador for the republic of unfulfilled desire?
~ for Karen An-hwei Lee
In response to Via Negativa: Homeless.