Prayer for the Novice Monastery Next Door

Last year my lullaby was layered adolescent voices throbbing morals
of fable, ancient teachings chanted into memory and stinking of sex,
secret teachings red in agni or white for soma, green and then yellow.
They dressed the sky between blocked buildings and then danced there
selflessly as if the sun wouldn’t breathe color from their weave
just to abandon them tattered and bleached and prayerless in the air.
They whispered of abandoned mountain spirits with black tongues and
white turbans that sheathed long snakes of hair wrapped coyly in metal
wire while below, designs were cast in barley grains, a beige against dark
mud floor, swastikas of four directions and then a circle to surround.
The tenor of those songs swelled with the moon outside my open window
and spilled over the sill, dripping fingers down
into my room until there was just one last solo refrain hummed in young
boy’s young pitch to the tune of a urine stream splaying into the curve
of the basin’s bell, teasing attention to the moment between two breaths
when sleep envelops the room – a blanket’s slow descent to steal away.

(2002)

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