07 March 2009

Forrest Gander

[from Forrest Gander's Deeds of Utmost Kindness, Wesleyan, 1994]

The Silence in Another World

In Kamakura, away from the hill where the famous hollow
Buddha exhales and inhales strings of tourists from the guarded
back door to his gigantic inside, there is a wooded ascent lost
in smoke sent twisting by disconnected women purifying their
raiment and passing their hands through the drift from holy
incense sticks they have just plunged into open air altars of
sand before they intend to climb further, with something shining
in their arms, along the serpentine rock path and its adjacent
brook which, interrupted by tiny waterfalls, is rimmed as the
path is rimmed, by foot-high golden bodhisattvas extending over
and punctuating every visible centimeter of wold and swale,
thousands of bodhisattvas sitting naked in shadow or slashed
with bright air, draped in cloth bibs bearing calligraphic prayers,
or infant clothing, or strung with dried flowers and pairs of
small shoes; a few propping cheap sienna reproductions
of generic
mother and child, crowding each other so seriously
that no ground
is apparent anywhere but for the dim path rising under thick
branches where umbrella pines and cedars segue to larches
at the fifth station, and everywhere else: bodhisattvas each
placed by a woman whose child was stillborn, or aborted, or
wounded fatally in birth, next to another left by another, and
this for many years until every geography unjammed by tree
thrusts has fallen occasion to the sculptured elegies, alike as
newborns and repeated like a mantra, so to seem from a distance,
in winter, a golden death-cap pulled over the knob of a mountain,
a cap woven as in a tale, from the wounds of women, strangers
to each other but mourning the same dispossession, more women
weeping than any dying emperor, or any man has known.

Deeds of Utmost Kindness (Wesleyan Poetry)

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous19:24

    his words pass through me like the smoke, like the still born child, like the fog on this day...painfully beautiful they are