Making a Spirit House

(a partially found poem)

"Certain kinds of beauty make people weep..."
- Rebecca Solnit



It is good if it can be built
in front of a tree

It is good if it can nestle
by its roots

It should not face
a toilet or a road
or the compost heap

Its door must look north
but it can never be placed
to the left of your own door

It should not stand
in the shadow of the house

Therefore it may be placed
on the roof

Calculate everything
from the time of day
to the color and material
of the spirit house

Infuse the pillars
with goodness, placing nine
lucky leaves and an abundance
of fruit and flower

Let the grass grow tall
and mark the river's edge
with smooth stones

Call in the angels and other
guardians from different realms

Call in their horses and dogs,
their baby elephants, their
owls, their sleepy cats

One holds a money bag
and a sword
One receives a tray
of oil and rice

Let the brown-cloaked moths
drink from your tears

Once the spirit world's
energy enters, place
a gold leaf on the roof

Honor the spirits of the land
and the water and the air

Make their dwelling more splendid
than the bigger, uglier
real thing where we live

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