India's Emptiest Corner

Sikkim.

Nestled at the foothills of the Himalayas, sequestered between Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet, it is the least populous state in India and the last to join the country after its monarchy dissolved.

Visited by a guru in the 8th century who introduced the people to Buddhism, it became the seat of an exiled Tibetan Buddhist leader who rebuilt the ruins of an ancient holy site into a magnificent monastery: Rumtek.

If I had been born a boy in Sikkim

Rumtek Monastery

I too could be here.

I could abandon home and family and hair

like charred cremations cast to the wind.

I could relinquish my skin

to swaths of crimson cloth.

I could surrender Cadbury’s chocolate

before the golden gods levitating in meditation.

I could flee into the cosmos,

take flight into enlightenment,

unburdened, stripped

bare.

I could be the 1005th Buddha.

I could be nothing and I could be everything.

I could be whatever I believe.

Instead, I was born white

with a womb

and a cross.

A Good Day for Prayers

On the border between Sikkim and West Bengal

It is a good day to hang prayer flags,

or so they say, auspicious

on such a sunny, windy morning.

On this bridge,

that trembles when

trucks with the painted kohl

eyes of goddesses transcend it.

Over which men carry their livelihoods

in twined cardboard boxes,

under which women lay out their lives,

bright fabrics to dry on flat,

sun-cleansed rocks.

Here

they have hung prayers –

not to God,

or so they say,

but to you, to me, to us.

A perpetual wave unfurled before

Buddha ever left his palace.

Come, today we will hang new prayers

on this ancient string between

these arbitrary lines, and

we will burn the old when

we are through.

Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Search By Tags
Follow Us
  • Facebook Classic
  • Twitter Classic
  • Google Classic