Poetry / February 2009 (Issue 6)

Two Poems

by Inara Cedrins


Silent ice crystals
spider across the windshield:
welcome November.

In the afternoon the snowflakes were large
as plum blossoms, and I remembered the silence
of monasteries on the stony mountainsides.
I have not been to Sakye
but I have wanted to die there
without water, without love.
How could there be such a rift
when earlier, the jeep stalled in ice,
I carried flat stones to shunt under
the wheels, and you broke bare-handed
into the icy stream? It becomes

mechanical, to live. I would offer now, if
I could be again at the glass-cased shrines
lined with rows of bowls of water
symbolizing the pure heart,
those round brown apples that look wooden.
You sealed me off from you, you broke through ice
but distrust is thicker. I would not enter

and so did not see those gold-crusted relics
and old hangings of Sakye. Alone
again in my life, I imagine
the belly of the Buddha
like the shadow from the candle: inhaling
and exhaling.

Toward Borders

After partaking of the new year noodles with the nine ingredients,
dried rape from the last of the crop, people stream from the cities
in pilgrimage again: the Amdo men, with red yarn
looped through their long braids, Pembo men
with bone ornaments in the long part of the hair,

crossing mountains rippled with veins of mineral green stones
that are thinly scattered with brush in cinnamon and amber,
and by yak-skin boat, rivers that send
only occasional slight streams across the arid land.
In my dream I want to ask you, is the water good
or is it salt?
Have we a future? On the water

are pairs of tawny-golden mandarin ducks
that mate for life. But you too vanish in this rarified air,
grow small and dwindle among Himalayan passes where snow
is banked shoulder-high, only room for one vehicle
to hug the road, and with time the prayer flags
become transparent, losing color,
longing becomes wordless.

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