Thursday, November 10, 2005

Day Four

the Tibet museum

Its celestial poise since antiquity never fails to agitate our patriotic pride.
– first caption in English on the wall walking in

high cheekbones on the high plateau
close to the ancestral grounds

it is the land of the talking calculator
Duo xiao chien? – they scrabble for the battery
when white faces loom

sky-scraping tablelands
something to shrug off

lofty mountains, torrential rivers
welcome you – honourable guest

history is marching into us here
glorious comradely history
future as wry as the past

join up the dots
in any tongue – progress!
yes it takes patience
what else have we got?

the streets are a museum too
of wheel and hoof
getting gone

I’ve never seen so many solar powered kettles
midsummer and still
I’ve never seen one come to the boil

ten p.m.

pilgrims abed
streets belong to tourists and taxis
street vendors pack the world’s treasure away

it’s only the hard core devout
prostrate now
around the Barkhor,
around the Jokhang
around the clock
they go

two pilgrims even
cover the circuit with synchronised prostrations
which could be Tibet’s contribution to Olympic culture
and why not?
safety in numbers, moral support

surely the truly devout wait for winter?


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