Sonam Chhoki

Sonam Chhoki resides in the eastern Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan. She is inspired by her father, Sonam Gyamtsho, the architect of Bhutan's non-monastic modern education. Her works have been published in poetry journals in Australia, Canada, Ireland, Japan, UK and US.

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Intangible gift

The full moon is a crystal bowl of hope for the year just begun. I sleep lulled by happiness and beauty.

The hill of my childhood, stained dark by viridian cypress heads, floats before me. A path in the moonlight or is it in the humid summer haze, beckons ...

I smell the moss embossed on the old stone bridge. No birds sing in the tower of trees. The mountain stream is a motionless, jade sheen. I come to a cave with the door of our old shed. Without a thought I unbolt it and there in the corner is crouching bird.

'The sacred raven!' I cry delightedly, recalling an old prophecy.

But this raven does not caw blessings. It cackles as it swoops past me.

"You shouldn't have let it go! " - a voice calls out.

I whimper an apology but no one answers. I go in search of my mother through the Book of the Dead. I  light the butter-lamps, turn the prayer wheels, feed the poor and nurse the needy. I am certain she is reborn in a better realm. Then I fall out of the bardo and tear my hair in despair.

Each strand is a white skein of Wisdom throbbing with a vermilion blood vessel in the middle ... 

mountain shrine -
the Buddha of Compassion
in lichen silence