What we lost…

If you’ve been following along this week, we’ve noticed my outpouring of the poem Buried 2 by Michael Ondaatje, one of my favorite authors.  The poem is from the book, Handwriting, published in 1999.  It is a historic tale of sorts, and perhaps we have to get our brains into another world, another country (Sri Lanka many centuries earlier…or today) to open ourselves the presence of the words.  Esoteric it may be for some.  I understand.  The section that I present today is my favorite…

Buried 2


What we lost.

The interior love poem
the deeper levels of the self
landscapes of daily life

dates when the abandonment
of certain principles occurred.

The rule of courtesy–how to enter
a temple or forest, how to touch
a master’s feet before lesson or performance.

The art of the drum. The art of eye-painting.
How to cut an arrow. Gestures between lovers.
The pattern of her teeth makes on his skin
drawn by a monk from memory.

The limits of betrayal. The five ways
a lover could mock an ex-lover.

Nine finger and eye gestures
to signal key emotions.

The small boats of solitude.

Lyrics that rose
from love
back into the air

naked with guile
and praise.

Our works and days.

We knew how monsoons
(south-west, north-east)
would govern behaviour

and when to discover
the knowledge of the dead

hidden in clouds,
in rivers, in unbroken rock.

All this we burned or traded for power and wealth
from the eight compass points of vengeance

from the two levels of envy

One Response to “What we lost…”

  1. Wow. This is an amazing poem of a different world. I don’t know why you like it so much, but I can see it is incredibly detailed and wistful. Thank you for sharing. I learned something today.


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