Bardo

By Tsering Wangmo Dhompa
A hundred and one butter lamps are offered to my uncle who
is no more.

Distraction proves fatal in death. A curtain of butter imprints
in air.

After the burning of bones, ashes are sent on pilgrimage. You are
dead, go into life, we pray. My uncle was a man given to giggles
in solemn moments.

Memory springs like crocuses in bloom. Self conscious and
precise.

Without blurring the cornea, details are resuscitated. Dried yak
meat between teeth. Semblance of what is.

Do not be distracted, Uncle who is no more.

He does not see his reflection in the river. The arching of speech
over “s” as he is becoming.

Curvature of spine as it cracked on a misty morning. A shadow
evades the wall.

You are no more, Uncle who is no more.

Every seven days he must relive his moment of expiration.
The living pray frequently amid burning juniper.

Communication efforts require the right initiative.

Somewhere along the line matters of motion and rest are resolved.

Crows pick the last offerings. You are someone else, uncle no
more.

Tsering Wangmo Dhompa, “Bardo” from Rules of the House. Copyright © 2003 by Tsering Wangmo Dhompa. Reprinted by permission of Apogee Press..

Source: Rules of the House (Apogee Press, 2003)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Tsering Wangmo Dhompa

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Subjects Living, Death, The Body, Relationships, Family & Ancestors

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Tsering Wangmo Dhompa

Biography

Poet Tsering Wangmo Dhompa’s parents fled Tibet in 1959. Raised by her mother in Tibetan communities in Dharamsala, India, and Kathmandu, Nepal, Dhompa earned a BA and an MA from Lady Shri Ram College in New Delhi, an MA from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and an MFA in creative writing from San Francisco State University. She is the author of the poetry chapbooks In Writing the Names (2000) and Recurring Gestures . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poems by Tsering Wangmo Dhompa

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Death, The Body, Relationships, Family & Ancestors

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.