A hundred and one butter lamps

This poem by Tsering Wangmo Dhompa really knocked me out:


A hundred and one butter lamps are offered to my uncle who

is no more.

Distraction proves fatal in death. A curtain of butter imprints

in air.

After the burning of bones, ashes are sent on pilgrimage. You are

dead, go into life, we pray. My uncle was a man given to giggles

in solemn moments.

Memory springs like crocuses in bloom. Self conscious and


Without blurring the cornea, details are resuscitated. Dried yak

meat between teeth. Semblance of what is.

Do not be distracted, Uncle who is no more.

He does not see his reflection in the river. The arching of speech

over “s” as he is becoming.

Curvature of spine as it cracked on a misty morning. A shadow

evades the wall.

You are no more, Uncle who is no more.

Every seven days he must relive his moment of expiration.

The living pray frequently amid burning juniper.

Communication efforts require the right initiative.

Somewhere along the line matters of motion and rest are resolved.

Crows pick the last offerings. You are someone else, uncle no


Tsering Wangmo Dhompa, “Bardo” from Rules of the House. Copyright © 2003 by Tsering Wangmo Dhompa. Reprinted by permission of Apogee Press..

Source: Rules of the House (Apogee Press, 2003)

Published by ahiggins2013

poet, birder, senior citizen, cancer survivor, Catholic sister. Eight books of poetry published: At the Year’s Elbow, Mellen Poetry Press 2000; Scattered Showers in a Clear Sky, Plain View Press 2007; chapbooks: Pick It Up and Read, Finishing Line Press 2008, How the Hand Behaves, Finishing Line Press 2009, Digging for God, Wipf and Stock 2010, Vexed Questions, Aldrich Press 2013, Reconnaissance, Texture Press 2014, and Life List, Finishing Line Press, 2015.

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