The cave at Tiger’s Nest once birthed a Llama
guarded now by fortress stone, jagged cliffs
and scores of chanting monks.
We climb the rain slick path,
rutted and rough hewn,
until the last flight of flagged steps
pass beneath a spindrift waterfall
then rise into the blast of horn,
murmured prayers and butter lamp smoke.
Mother and Father Buddha center one chapel
flanked by pairs of tantric lovers
and outside, younger monks,
heads shaved and robed, play
with the aggressive joy of any boys.
Leaving, we head down the slope of slippery clay
to an old toothless woman, barefoot,
who laughs at her captured image
then continues her vertical climb.
As rain and fog decrease
the monastery emerges high above,
speaking through clouds of what endures,
spoken in the sound of prayer,
the pilgrim journey in high places
and amidst the city noise
in the bustle of black smoke,
the day to day life we live
beneath the brow remote and fierce
of Tiger’s Nest.