The Other …

For friends in Tibet whose dual lives are a constant source of humour and pain …

Buddha lies hidden under a silk scarf
Tucked in a drawer at home in Lhasa
At night I restore it, and say my prayers
Prayers to forgive my cowardice
Prayers to relieve me of suffering.

I look from afar at the giant monastic doors
The crowd walks in with their prayer beads
I have pledged my hands to communism
I can’t go in with my old butter lamp.

Night after night I am awake in my dreams
I hear the echo of my dead parents
I relive their hunger and blood in revolution
It is here that I see myself —
The potential not yet dead … the fire still left
I am flying high on a rebellious horse
Brandishing a sword with the flag on my chest
I plunge headlong amongst thousands of Hans Screaming at them with all my fury
I dare them to kill me right there
I am the master of my own fate.

Again morning comes to intervene
I pedal slowly to work for my boss
He greets me Ni Hao and sips jasmine tea
Tells me about the guy who just went to prison
For the most stupid cause you can ever imagine
It is futile, it is suicidal — he goes on
I respond with respect and sit at my desk
Fear is back with its mask for me
Come evening, I’ll tear it again.

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