Sit still. Isn’t it exhausting
to be someone else,
to visit places in your head
that promise happiness but can’t
convince your heart to stay?
Peace doesn’t arrive
when you’re on vacation.
Sometimes it’s during a pandemic
when you’re stuck at home,
closing your eyes and waiting--
suspended in the darkness
of not knowing
between sunset and moonrise,
a horizon of questions
loving presence will answer.
We attend my grandmother’s funeral virtually,
watch the priest and my uncle
perform the last rites and rituals
purifying her body with ghee and rice
for a peaceful soul release.
The screen ceremony feels surreal.
Children and grandchildren speak of Ba’s cooking,
her generosity, her home, her heart
that always flowed in the direction of love
as great grandchildren lay rose petals
over her body, palms pressed in
Jai Sri Krishna they are learning.
I keep thinking that Ba is just sleeping.
At any moment she will wake up and ask,
Tamē manē kēma rāndhatā chō?
Jō tamanē bhūkha lāgī hōya
tō manē tamārā māṭē rasō'i karavā dō.**
Beside me grief flows in violent waves
through my mother, tears unable to relieve
the pressure that such loss builds inside.
As we watch the coffin pushed into the furnace,
a whimpering sound escapes from somewhere
I don’t recognize, an ancient, primal call.
I see the faces, feel the bodies
of everyone I love, including myself
burning back to bones, to dust,
leaving this world with nothing
except the lives we touch,
and the peace we can leave behind.
**Why are you cooking me?
If you are hungry,
then let me cook for you.
The Deepest Peace
(inspired by The Deepest Peace by Zenju Earthlyn Manuel)
Drawn to the fuchsia tinged light
reflected in Dumbarton Bay,
I’m moved by the stillness of shorebirds
wading in shallow waters,
waiting for the day to begin.
All meaningful action is born
from this womb of silence.
I must also pause, feel
this earth-driven calm within,
before speaking and acting,
before spreading my wings,
checking in with the wind
when it’s best to take flight.