Geshe-la Speaks of Sky Burial

“[T]here are six realms of existence in which all deluded beings exist…. Although the realms appear to be distinct and solid, as our world seems to us, they are actually dreamy and insubstantial. They interpenetrate one another and we are connected to each.”
~Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, The Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep

To find a human corpse while walking is good luck,
he smiled. I laughed, recalling morbid photos of
a tundra where a shriveled face and arms were sucked
quite clean and red by vultures’ final act of love.

I didn’t ask him, Why good luck? It just made sense,
despite the fact that here such luck would make a man
grow pale and cry, or call the law. We don’t dispense
our bones this way. We box them for the promised land.

One friend surmised the luck is in the end of life’s
great suffering. But I say luck is witnessing
that body as myself. No longer someone’s wife
or child or love—a dissipating fleshy dream.

With any luck what’s left of me will be this eye.
Bequeath me to the buzzards. Bury me in sky.


With thanks to Geshe Yungdrung Gyaltsen,
Padma Thornlyre and Julie Cummings

2 Responses to “Geshe-la Speaks of Sky Burial”

  1. eduardo says:

    “But I say luck is witnessing/that body as myself.” I like this. Also, the closing couplet: “With any luck what’s left of me will be this eye./Bequeath me to the buzzards. Bury me in the sky.” Part of its niftiness is the reminder that Edward Abbey wished to be reincarnated as a turkey buzzard.

    A bit more “prosey” than the poems of your I’ve seen. Not judging; just noticing.

    • wordweed says:

      Ah, yes, Abbey. I recall his wishes as well. I suppose the longing is a bit different, here, but the connection is valuable.

      Yeah, this one is definitely more prosey, casual language, which is funny, since it is a sonnet, something I rarely write. I’ve always loved how Rosemerry’s sonnets retain such a natural flow of language while still adhering carefully to the form. One hardly notices the sonnet form in her work unless one looks closely. She tends to avoid the Shakespearean sonnet because the closing couplet is always so obviously rhymed, not subtle enough for her taste. I guess my closing couplet worried me too, as the rhyme is hard hitting compared to the rest of the piece. I’m glad you like it.

      Many, if not most, of my poems have tended toward prose or a looser free verse in the past. Just been experimenting more lately.

Leave a Reply