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April 2014, vol 10, no 1

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Sonam Chhoki

The Archaeology of Dreams

Deep in sleep drifting into the nimbus of dreams, calluses emerge of memories still unhealed beneath membranes of time.

The hill of my childhood, with its verdant band of firs, floats out of the mists and melds with the family altar lit with butter lamps. My father is a faceless voice; mother, a lime white lily. The sea breaks over icy slopes; I canoe down empty, mercury vapor-lit streets.

An ivory bowl of hemlock spins out of the blue-black night. I raise it to the gods and drink.

Is this the truth of Socratic sacrifice? I ask a recalcitrant sky.

The Dakini* laughs, tosses the moon; Stars tumble in tangled skeins of light and shadow. I sink into the whorls of a red lotus. A hush so deep I can hear my thoughts.

temple ruins . . .
the broken altar smokes
with frost

*Dakini: (Sanskrit) A tantric deity. In Tibetan Buddhist iconography, the dakini is a female embodiment of an enlightened mind. In Dzongkha (lingua franca of Bhutan) the dakini is rendered as ‘khandroma’ (Khan-Do-Ma) 'she who traverses the sky' or 'she who moves in space'.