Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2019  Vol. 18 No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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In the Year of the Earth

On the seventh day they appeared
part-vulture part-gharial sloughing
as though banished from a spruce tree
on fire
the cursed crows some said
who didn’t deliver
the message on time
some said the daughters
who had soiled the roof
the Garuda some said
hatched full-fledged in the sky
and fated to die on the wing
all day they watched
from their pneumatic perches
singed they
did not sing
between tremors
we crawled back into our ghost
houses unearthed
teacups passports persimmons quilts singing bowls shoes honey cash
sunflower seeds rice silver prayer beads lalpurjas letters mortars and pestles
beheaded Buddhas water motorcycles pachhauras whiskey buckwheat
bread heirloom bangles matchbooks gold family portraits knives salt
at night our daughters
knocked on the ground
from the inside
Ama bury us out
Apa it’s cold in here
with shovels we scooped earth
from earth
stilled our ears above the pits
as though they were wild beehives
only to realize the voices were the beasts
perched on the unlive wires
relieving themselves in sleep
we washed our hands with ash
with incense we cleansed the wind
in the morning we offered them
steamed rice dahl silver coins a butter lamp
we chanted the salvaged
pages of the Kangyur
we asked them to go back
to the fire they came from
to forgive us
they didn’t stir
they touched nothing
they’re waiting for us someone said
to become meat
we hurled the butter lamp
a fistful of the shattered window
poked their pink bellies
with rafter splinters
rattled the persimmon branches
until the last leaf fell
they didn’t dodge
they took the hits
fell to the earth and returned
to the same pockets of ash
we begged them for the love
of Buddha please go
go anywhere but go
we fell to our knees
in their eyes we saw butchered
rivers at last they opened
their great lacerated wings
and like unwelcome daughters
sailed away
later that night we heard a song
coming from the spruce forest
more nail than pinion
more sickle than star
Apa we’re burning
Ama we’re warm at last  

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