“While Watching a Video of the Dalai Lama” by Perie Longo

Perie Longo


for my husband

Everything I see or hear is about him.
This morning, the Dalai Lama
says there is so much suffering
in the world he can’t do much.

With his monks he sifts colored sand
into an intricate design for peace,
then sweeps it away. They collect
the remains in a small jar, sprinkle a little
on top of their heads for tranquility.

While I held my husband in my hands
as ash, like finest sand,
all the hard edges of us disappeared
with the smoke. I rubbed him on my skin

then we flew him into light.

Such tragedy! how it takes death
to put everything in its right place,
how it takes death to perfect a life.

from Rattle #17, Summer 2002


Perie Longo: “I had a recurrent dream when I was a very young child that when two armies of people met on the battlefield I stood between them and said, ‘No one can fight until they write a poem about their feelings.’ This probably came from my father, who always wrote poems to capture family celebrations and conflicts. Today I stand between life and death after the ‘crossing over’ of my husband, heeding my own words.”

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