Catching a glimpse through mountain shadows
of a white bearded man returning
to his cave dwelling.
Hungry worms have reduced to dirt
Parched pages of his sacred texts.
What really is there to know?
This hermit had learned everything
but specialized in doing nothing.
Dusty books are as useful
As ashes swept into the Ganges.
His trusted friends at his granite perch
an oak stick to prop his chin
whilst staring at the moon
and a wooden box
to keep him upright throughout the night.
In his fifty-fifth year a single thought
soaked his mind like the monsoon mist.
“I am going to die right now
At this moment
“What a hassle it will be”
“for wrinkled nuns to fetch wood
to torch these useless bones of mine.”
For three days under passing clouds
next to the mountain’s rushing torrent
he collected dry wood
stacking his pyre next to the cave door.
That woodpile remained
for two decades
keeping his mind nailed to mortality
as village nuns below
left this world
one by one.
Then, the day when autumn winds blew northward
and rusted hinges broke
the great meditator’s door fell open.
Dust eight month’s thick
wrapped Gomchen’s shadowed figure
concealing the gnawed holes
in his woolen shawl.
Chewed upright corpses are more useful
than cremation ash—
Perseverance is not being distracted
even by your death.
Solo Khumbu, Nepal