Shadows of Each Other, Poem

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In Laos, it is almost morning. Awake most of the night,
I lie in cool sheets under mosquito netting,
write short lines, sip lemon grass tea.

In New Mexico, you fold paper cranes,
drink despair and rooibos tea, the sinking
sun’s scarlet fills mountains, Sangre de Cristos.

I want to tell you – someone placed an orchid
on my pillow, in the crux of a tree, at the bow of a boat.
All things have a spirit to be honored and tended.

I make a crossing with a man in a blue boat.
We cannot speak each other’s language.
I climb stone steps, pass the gold spirit house,

enter the jagged mouth of a limestone cave.
Here, hundreds of Buddhas sit. Once a year
the villagers come, lift each broken figure,

bathe it in the river, lay the sacred to rest.
When I return to shore, the old woman smiles,
waves like a friend.