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                        the evening before when at length he’d departed,
                Vaiśālī no longer glowed
        like some future city –

                        recent stones of monument
                seemed already unaligned,
        boroughs swallowed by evening hills;

                        we walked wide by the trees across the Gangetic plain,
                robes flupped with each step,
        we lost form as we wandered

                        and we wondered ‘born but to die’,
                still wanting any intoxication
        before the execution;

                        but he looked, always bittersweet,
                to the next horizon – this
        vast and empty stage;

                        in the morning he’d said
                ‘always bite and heat your gold’ and ‘never
        hold the sword by the blade’;

                        ‘I shall lay between those two trees’
                he said in the evening – forks
        around which the whole of time tuned;

                        I prepared grasses about
– I never usually made particular preparations for the night, he would end the day sitting by some copse or stone, away from where we slept glowing like embers,
        as we turned through the night –

                        but he pillowed his head on his hand
                that night, the grasses
        preened green and blue

                        the birds stopped
                as if there were eclipse, the trees ignored
        the breeze,

                        and with shaking headdresses
                dignitaries came to visit from the town
        supplicating –

                        but he spoke with a voice like a cloud, both proximate
and spanning valleys, yearning and teaching to lay down this dried and splintered weight, ‘salvation does not come from the mere sight of me’,
        ‘control the mind’ –

                        and the flames of the fires were low
                as they returned to Kuśinagara
        as if against the stream


Postface Overduction: end of life of the Buddha; narrated by Ananda, close attendant; itinerant life teaching from town to town, area of a few hundred kilometers around central Ganges; left Vaiśālī last, stopped just outside Kuśinagara, town dignitaries came to honour him, had known him before; ‘two trees’ are ‘sal trees‘ tall trunk, no branches until the canopy, northern India, 6th-5th centuries BCE (although there is dispute about this);



birds wormhole: threshold to behold
blue & city & horizon & morning & time wormhole: under the blue and blue sky
breeze & clouds & valley wormhole: here today and …
Buddha wormhole: eyes like petals
death & speech wormhole: travel // when I die
evening wormhole: nowhere / that can be seen
grass & life & trees wormhole: sweet chestnut
green wormhole: ‘she shook the sweets …’
hills & sleep wormhole: Lapping Reflections [Deep Within Waters] – valley
looking wormhole: looking hard enough
night & sound & stone & walking wormhole: meanwhile
teaching wormhole: c’mon – keep up
voices wormhole: travelling / back