Tibetan Reflections

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Intangible,
elusive,
the smoke rises from the small sticks up to
the wooden beams above. The whole room
is lit by small butter lamps
and one can hear the bells clanging
from outside the Temple.
Red, yellow, green, and white prayer
flags flutter, torn and worn from
strings that drape across the courtyard
and color the valley below.
We sit high up in the hills.
It is early morning, when the mist still
clings to the tall pines,
and the city is just beginning to wake.
Young children run outside, give a hasty pat
to the mangy dog out front, before zipping
off, backpacks in hand, down the road to school.
An old, bent woman, one arm crossed behind
her back, sweeps debris from the side
of the street into the gutter, and the younger
women, striped traditional aprons adorning their
middles, set up their jeweled wares upon rickety
tables that line the streets of Dharamsala.

This poem was written as a reflection to the first couple pages of the book by the same name, “Tibetan Reflections” by Peter Gold. He begun his book by setting the scene of a beautiful day in Dharamsala, much like I described in this poem and went on to describe the importance of incense in Buddhism and in the lives of Tibetans. While reading through Gold’s first words, the above scene came rushing into my head just as I had experienced it the first time I visited Dharamsala when in high school. While my journey is to begin in Thailand and Cambodia, I am starting out my reading with “Tibetan Reflections,” A) because it is handy and B) because I think it is written beautifully and is an inspiration to my writing. I know that my photography, once I arrive in Thailand, will need no help, but my poetry will need a kick-start and I find that this book is already working!

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