Last Days of Winter
War settles like dust for there is no other side
when winds blow particles from Sudan
to Hiroshima to icy rivers that wild coho
struggle against to lay their bright eggs.
On the first day of the first war declared in this century
the Asian Art Museum opens its doors with stilt-walkers
dressed as emperors and geishas, and with musicians
from Vietnam, Korea, Afghanistan, for music and art
transcend transient politics and borders. Even
the museum’s map of Asia’s Buddhist centers
proclaims Tibet’s sovereignty within China’s
yawning border. Across the street a demonstration
swells before City Hall to protest a war
veiled in an amalgam of virtue, misinformation
and covert interests.
Something ghostlike transforms this city.
While most stores close, in others clerks
focus like compulsive-obsessives just
to get through the day and homeless
walk the streets as if San Francisco’s
sole inhabitants. One woman, hair
plaited with a plethora of mismatched
ribbons mirroring her clothes, crosses
against red. She zigzags mostly between
the yellow lines while drivers remain
uncharacteristically patient as if
acknowledging the difficulty of accepting
war without dissolving in a despair that
threatens one’s ever-transient
connection with life.
Within these museum’s walls images of Buddha,
Bodhisattvas, White Tara embody prayers for all
sentient beings and symbolize compassion,
wisdom, the acceptance of suffering, as well as
our ability to skillfully control rather than be
controlled by our mad-wraith desires.
It’s no longer a matter of us versus them,
good versus evil. We are all messengers of God
and we are all godless. Energy is neither created
nor destroyed. All those who have lived and
don’t yet live share our bodies through the food
we eat, the air we breathe, the cells that ferociously
regenerate throughout our lives. Prayer wheels
fill these halls with unbound intent that passes
through the walls, the streets, the world: may all
beings be healthy, may all beings be happy,
may all beings live in peace.
Two-time semi-finalist for "Discovery"/The Nation poetry award, Elizabeth Weaver focused on poetry for her M.A., and is writing on her first novel, the main character of which has a photoblog at bonegirlpix.wordpress.com. Her writing can be read in journals and anthologies such as 5AM, RATTLE and Cezanne's Carrot.