Hosang Merchant
ASIAN ART
 
Kampara's Journey South

The wild geese flying south
The gooseberry frosted on the bough
The lake frozen in the valley
The grass turning dry at its edge
The Karmapa journeying south
In search of a lute and a hat

The guards let him go
The mother averted her eye
The brother did not know
The sister of 24 wished to go
With her brother in search of a lute and a hat

The wheels crushed the snow
The horses were willing to rear up
But the riders let them go free
The Karmapa had ridden a bestiary
Of wolves and goats in valleys
His stone a high throne
His toy a lamasery made of small stones
His face shone and shone
In twenty days he came home

The High Lama broke his reverie
Twice to see this bright boy
The klieg lights blew up in his face
His face shone and his eye was clear
He ate light, slept well
And went in search of a hat and a lute

Then as if in a dream
There was no throne
There was no lamasery
There was no lute or hat
There was none of all that

The water unfroze in the lake
The grass returned, green
Where there was a valley
There’s now only a stone
And a tear unlocked in the boy’s eye

He saw what the Buddha had seen
He spoke once only Tibetan
But now he does not need to use even that
All the world watches stunned
The Lama is silent
Like an unstrung lute
An empty hat


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