Hills beyond a hill, indefinite until Brownish landscape meets with the sky. No sight of trees to slow down the breeze. He gushes with laughter as this river flows by. It all turns dry through winter's cold lens. Such is this provenance of his sentience. Marks on the cliffs reminds him of glyphs— Text of this Earth gets hardened, matured. Imprinted on lime are notes of his time And forces of violence the Earth had endured. His cosmos forced this dissolution intense. Such is this provenance of impermanence. Sutras of life, sutras describe, He passes them on as he himself chants Sutras of bliss. Initiated by his Master whose teachings he had to implant In disciples who tirelessly rehearse. Such is this provenance of the universe. The stupas behind—in there confined Meditating masters. Three jewels preside The souls that outlast the lives of our past. His old remains might still be inside These stupas and stupas in formation. Such is this provenance of incarnation. The white-dotted sky opens up wide. A luminous path paves its Milky Way To escape from this circle and ellipse Of birth and death bookending decay And of his rebirth in this confinement. Such is this provenance of enlightenment.
Notes: Last year I stayed in Tabo Monastery for a couple of days. Every night I sat under the clear skies and wondered how the lives of the monks would have been a couple of centuries ago. This poem was a difficult one to write. I had a draft idea lying around for a number of days with no clue about how to approach it. Then, out of nowhere, the whole poem came together in a couple of hours. —S.B. (01.09.2020)