Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Mochu

A woman leans

over the mountain bridge

watching her own body curve

                       around the fir trees.


Full & clear. Stone-hipped & capillaried

in moss. She is the river


who has left the river

to contemplate why - her water will weaken

and her journey change


over many days

and many crossings taken

by villagers & livestock, glacial mist & birds.


Something monks have foreseen

praying in their temple. Housewives have felt

in the warmer-than-usual wind

drying turnip leaves on the floor. What their carved gods

know hanging on the  kitchen wall.


Prayer flags bloom on the railing

asking to be healed, helped or forgiven;

and she wonders which sins

are left unspoken. What penitents may come


asking  to be cleansed

as her body thins

to a trickling shadow. A scarf of purity

                     in the mud.


The word, Mochu,  is the Bhutanese  for female river. In the culture and religion of people from Bhutan, a small nation on the eastern slopes of  The Himalayas,  all aspects of nature are spirits from the flowers to the wind. This also includes rivers; and they are also given genders depending on the shape, texture and movement of the terrain. The softer more curvaceous course  is considered feminine/female and the more rugged, muscular one is deemed masculine/male. And that river is an entity ranging in perspective from a sacred spirit to a minor goddess/god.. The rivers are known to be clear, cold and pure, a major source of inspiration, drinking nourishment and irrigation for their fields and gardens. Yet, even in this remote and isolated part of the world, climate change is occurring along with the introduction of modern technology and the influx of tourists. The old ways are changing; and so is the pristine face of the landscape. This poem is the river contemplating the future and its ecological effects. Like all of us, who metaphorically leave our bodies during meditation or dreaming, so does the mind/soul of  the river.

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