In Exile

An old man below a weeping willow
Hears the wind whipping
The leafless branches
Hanging down — a thousand sorrowful tunes.
He ignores the buzzing flies
stench from the gutter
dirt nestled in his wrinkles
He is somewhere, somewhere else
a snowy mountain
a herd of yaks
a flock of sheep
barking of the mastiff near his tent
He marches silently to another time.

An old man below a weeping willow
His face a parched walnut
Creased skin gathered around his mouth
Cinched like a bag.
He ignores the shrieking children
the sun beating on him
time slipping under his feet
He is somewhere, somewhere else
a windswept pass
a flutter of prayer-flags
a nodding field of barley in his home
Images valid only in his memory.

An old man below a weeping willow
Kneads his rosary with his thumb
Sits cross-legged, eyes closed
He ignores the sorrow gnawing from within
pain in his rheumatic joints
years away from home
He is somewhere, somewhere else
a vulture flying about
prayers chanted aloud
smoke curling from his village square
He is here he is there, journey incomplete.

An old man below the weeping willow is
hope submitting to memories
hope submitting to memories

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