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  • Outside Seoul, 2011: Bell in the wind
Bell in the wind.
The space full of grief
And music; wishes
On the ceiling;
And the silent drum.

We sit before
The white Buddha
On red cushions.
Four candles burn
Steadily, in the incense
Air. Outside, the row
Of white statues.
Buddhas and bodhisattvas
In myriad expressions.
And the house of the bells.

The monk places
A golden bell
On the low table
Where I sit in meditation.

Grief is here today.
Along with all that peace.
The grandmother speaks
To the portrait
Of her dead grand-daughter.
Such pain in her voice.
She barely able to speak.
I know grief, but this is bitter.

Even the blessing
Of the middle way,
Even the enchantment
Of the peace in the air unseen,
Can't still the broken heart
Of one who lost
A grand-daughter,
Who died so young.

I listen to the voices of monks
Through the walls, chanting.
Insects chatter in the yard.
Around the heart
The Buddhas whirl.

I remember grief
From the sighs
Of my mother.
How do we bear
The earth and its pains?
Only non-attachment
Or by attachment to what
The bells wake us up to,
The Buddha in the air,
Going all the way
To the remote suns.


Ben Okri

Seoul, 2011