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Trying to remember Asia
by Jerry Hicks

1. Year of the dragon, 8th Dynasty

Once I was a field, wasn't I?
Vast and extending
to the edge of the hills
(where the monkeys
played in the bodhi trees)
tended by men with backs bare
and women nearly always smiled
even when delivering children
in the murky waters.

And I thought you were the rice
that grew so plentiful,
tall stately,
fed the village twice
their needs, while
not a child died of lack
and not a mother was dry.

Weren't you content then?
Were we not happy then?
Or is it only what I wish?

2. Fallow and deserted

I was trying to think
If I were a field, how
could I be sentient?
Would there be a mind?
Would there be a heart?
And most important
what is Samsara for a field?
For rice?
These questions baffle me.

I think I remember
you adored the light of generation, too
you mentioned the moon,
once – or was it love?

I think I remember you
taken – wounded
waiting something– death?
Could I feel pity– a mere field?
for what? For the loss of…
I know not what, perhaps

And could I have karma,
with no mind
and no heart,
no substance
beyond water?
What action can a field take?
What force can it render?
Were my thoughts impure?

But I think I remember
sun baking my skin
crisp and hard until it crackled
that the men with backs bare
women – always smiling – 
came no more.

Can a field remember like this?
Can a field remember bright red
gore of dead buffalo?
Pimples on a vast plain.
Can a field remember a nightmare?


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