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Last Time I Saw My Mother

Sunday, May 9, 2010
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Dedicated to all those Tibetan children who escaped Tibet in the night, hidden and smuggled in trucks, over land, over the ravine of ice, plagued by hunger, weighty bullets catching those unlucky ones.  And all the mothers whose bosoms are bare and who still sent their children to get a chance at a better life.  Some never got to see their parents again and I know a few of them.  This is for you and for the pain buried deep in your hearts.

Last time I saw my mother
it was under a moonless night,
she held me deep in her heart
and wet my cheeks with her tears.
I watched her silhouette
against the borrowed light
escaping from the door ajar,
then the ramshackle truck
pass a corner
and the night swallowed her from me.

The harried whispers
of my custodian,
laid me between boxes
of cabbages and carrots
and a silent warning not to
make a sound.
I think I also smelt
the tangy sweetness
of aging potatoes too.
I was seven years old that year
and the kindness of my mother
had snatched me from her bosom
into a strange night,
far away in a distant land,
where men wear turbans
and women put dots on their forehead.

Then time grew into a conundrum
spreading its gnarly roots
deep inside my chest.
The grass turns blue in the summer
the marmots stretch themselves in the sun
the lazy yaks munch in their sleep
and I am a little further
away from the ground.
Each winter we gather around
the smokey hearth,
pushing potatoes into the dying ash,
our backs to the freezing cold.
Years would pass and a letter
or two would escape through
the bamboo shoots:

We are well
We miss you
Listen to Kundun’s advice
and follow him with your heart.

Then one fine day
I was second year in college
I heard my mother had passed
away in her sleep
three years earlier.
Sometimes in the night
I wake up to the child
still crying in his sleep
and the ramshackle truck
keep passing the corner
and I could no longer
remember her face.

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