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Richard Jones' Poetry

Sky Funeral?

In a revered Tibetan tradition,
I read aloud to my father,
the dead are borne to mountains
and the bodies offered to vultures.


I show him the photographs
of a monk raising an ax,
a corpse chopped into pieces,
a skull crushed with a large rock.


As one we contemplate the birds,
the charnel ground, the bone dust
thick as smoke flying in the wind.
Our dark meditation comforts us.


I ask if he'd like me to carry him--
like a bundle of sticks on my back--
up a mountain road to a high meadow
and feed him to the tireless vultures.


"Yes," he says, raising a crooked finger,
"and remember to wield the ax with love."