March 2010


Picture the most beautiful place you’ve ever been. Multiply that beauty to the point that it becomes unreal. Imagine walking among that beauty for weeks on end, your heart nearly bursting it is so swollen with realization and disbelief that so beautiful a place can exist on earth. Welcome to Nepal.

Along the Annapurna

Settled around 11,000 feet, Ghyaru is a magical village

View from camp at 16,000 feet

A porter with the great Niligiris rising in the background

Maila and me, cracking nuts with a rock

10/03/09

A mist falls

to the irregular rhythm

of horns honking,

in the streets

sad dogs lay

draped across sidewalk,

beggars whisper, bones

stuck out of

sullen faces,

cows wander

dropping dung

at liesure.

stall after stall of colorful goods

overflow,

the burnt incense smells

sweet,

the forbidden fruit

too.

quietly I wander

western eyes

adjusting slowly.

“Namaste Madame”

a Napali man calls

“would you like some hashish?

a very good price!”

I shake my head

a horn blares behind

the bike’s engine whines and

I leap quickly left,

its sideview mirror

grazes my arm hair

raises my neck hair,

my elbow nearly bumps

the orange-cured

pig laid out on a wooden block

quartered and chopped

course black hair holding still

to its back.

nose wrinkling filth putridly

rises from a trashpile

nearby, three children

sit beside it, motioning

to me that their mouths

need feeding.

above my head

the store signs are stacked-

Pashminas! Yakwool Sweaters!

WiFi! International Telephone!

Bhudda Cafe! Nepali Food!

Trekking! Yeti Tours!

a colorful 5th avenue of

third world Nepal

just as loud as

Manhattan’s streets

and, to me,

far more

real.

The flutes sing

om mani padme hum-

crimson red, crisp pink

flowers on a white window sill-

juniper and pot

sweetly hover up

a creaky staircase.

Outside the glass pane,

dim light on a still

sleepy valley, the glow

slowly grows on

mountain shapes.

Gold snow, cheery like bronze

shines for an instant.

On the patio below

the porters shuffle

foot to flip-flopped foot,

each breath a solid mass

of whispy white smoke

in still cold air.