A Hundred Gourds 2:2 March 2013
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Sonam Chhoki - Bhutan

Afraid to love: A new mother's lament

I look at you in the cot. Your belly rises and falls with each breath. You smell so alive! Did I really once carry you inside?

I dreamed to hold you, nuzzle you, bathe you. But when you came I slid away to a nameless direction-less place. How did I arrive here? How can I leave?

You sleep, feed, sleep, gurgle, yawn and burp.

mountain road -
beyond each hairpin bend
more fog

The family fears I’ve lost my life force and need the healing deities. The monks are called. They invoke the Buddha of Boundless Light[1] . They clang cymbals and blow their thighbone trumpets clang at ghouls who have entrapped my mind. They light a hundred and eight butter lamps to light my way out of this chasm. Swirls of juniper and sandalwood smoke rise to the dawn sun.

I smell the incense and the burning of wicks. I see the silhouette of the flames flickering on the wall. No luminous Rainbows of Bliss[2]  light up the horizon. The mantras are faint echoes in the distance.

prayers at dawn --
the stench of moth wings
in the butter lamp

Little one, you wriggle your pebble-like toes. You crease your eyes in smiles.

I don’t know for how long I’ll be gone …

fading light -
a young crow riffles though the orchids


[1]  - Buddha of Boundless Light: (YO-BA-MAY) (Tibetan: Od-dpa'-med) (Sanskrit: Amitabha). Invoked in exorcism rites.

[2]  - Rainbows of Bliss: A quote from the Tibetan text,


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