A Hundred Gourds 3:2 March 2014

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Sonam Chhoki - Bhutan

Underworld Dream

I follow a tunnel of interlacing trees. Overhanging leaves curl in papillae of frost. I come to a gate of ox heads carved in obsidian. The way is bared but I feel I must stop by and wait . . .

With a burst of wing beats a raven slices the silence. In its beak it holds a broken half eggshell, speckled gold and red. Clicking its claws the raven sidles along the stone wall. I sense an invitation in its burnt umber iris:

“Don’t you want to know what this is?”

I reach out and feel an immediate giveaway. The eggshell spins through the air in a shower of mottled hues.

“You’ve broken the spell!” The raven screeches, rising swiftly into flight.

Trees recede into a whorl of blackness. The ornate gate is gone. A voice, like no other I’ve heard before, says softly, “your time has not yet come.”

winter solstice—
a late moth immolates
in the butter lamps

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