Poetry

March 19, 2003 Medrogonkar County, Lhasa Prefecture, TAR

My heart races after an msg lunch
Across the street, two Muslims carry
Home the head of a yak, as if they
Were sheltering a precious statue
Objects of sustenance guarded
Under an undecided sky
Y smiles with the clarity of love
Here on an undecided day
We are ambivalent toward our histories
The only things sure come tumbling down:
A child’s kick behind a deflating ball,
Clouds descending over the valley
With unimpeded force, so silent
Change moves like air

Here they call it rlung
Pray for clarity and rich harvests

-Sienna Craig (2003)

Poem for my grandfather 2/9/02

I make this night a bridge between us
To help you through your dying
I see you now, broad shouldered and proud
With your deep laugh and graceful fingers –
A musician’s dexterity, the artist’s ear –
And the whistle that was your signature
The sum of your spontaneous joy

I make this night a bridge between us
To help you through your dying
Resolute in love, you bore out sweet distinctions
And were yourself habit forming – your spark
A lovely, stubborn resilience that strengthened me
Grandfather, even as a child I knew you
As one old spirit knows another

I make this night a bridge between us
To help you through your dying
The last time I saw you
We held hands like school children
Privy to the secrets of girls and grandfathers
At play with our shared history
And all we could not know about each other

I make this night a bridge between us
To help you through your dying
Rest, sweet soul, and in your resting
Feel the weight of my living hands
Upon you, lifting you,
Bearing you up as the ancestor
You are becoming

I make this night a bridge between us
To help you through your dying
And in the silent symphony of stars
The great cacophony of universe
I find you there, ascending
A sweet note, long and full like life itself
You are calling to me

And across this night that blankets
Years and other distinctions
I am calling to you –
A hymn to the dying
But moreso, a lovely surrender
Awash with all the dignity of dawn

-Sienna Craig (2002)

Woodsmoke and Radishes

Reap this harvest
well my dear
you will not
feel this blanket-
snow draping wool
‘neath bursts
of paleolithic sky
for lifetimes
to come

learn this language
well my dear
to taste
woodsmoke and radishes
in single mouthfuls
of the simplest exchanges
for all that is
dramatic
in this place

Walk these miles
well my dear
These treeless lands
balance ladders of wood
petrified sculptures
held up in homage
to feet that take you
there and
back again

I taste it still,
this burnt and bitter
hospitality
blessedly dirty
even on the
cleanest of tongues.

– Sienna Craig (1996)