"Moby Dick"

Offerings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Something drew me to the island of Bali, and I spent ten days there before I began to realize what it was. While my muse slept, I wandered aimlessly, overwhelmed by the newness, the uniqueness, the vibrancy of just about everything.

Bali is sometimes called "The Island of the Gods," and it doesn't take much roaming around to understand why. The temples and shrines outnumber the people who live there, and these places of worship are attended to every day with deep devotion.

It's just as obvious why Bali is known also as "The Morning of the World." Balinese spiritual tradition is ancient, and it is securely rooted. In my conversations with numerous tourists and other foreigners, however, spectacular sunsets and ruthless bargaining are clearly more popular topics.

I was told that, seen from the tourist town of Kuta, sunsets are fabulous. That may be true; I don't know. I decided not to go there. On the tenth day of my journey a young Balinese woman asked me what I'd remember most about her country. I couldn't find an answer, but her question caused me to become more alert for the rest of my stay.

The day before I left, my muse woke up abruptly.

What I shall remember most
is the way you come
gliding along the paths of dawn,
to your shrines,
wearing brightly colored sarongs,
and bearing woven bamboo trays
lined with banana leaves,

Heaped with flowers
and bits of fruit,
and other small mysteries,
and incense smoke
that drifts with the breeze . . .

and how you place your offerings
one upon another
in temple niches-
in this temple niche,
a deep furrow
in the trunk of a very old banyan.

 

But no . . .
this isn't what I'll remember most.
What I'll remember
is the one,
slow
careful
sweep of your hand,
guiding a scented breath of smoke
to the nostrils of the great spirits who
have always lived
in Bali.

And after all,
it's not sunsets for which I came.
It's sunrise,
Here
at the Morning of the World.

Offerings
Heaped one upon another
Gentle morning rain


Christopher Herold is a name with a man. The man returns fairly regularly to a numbered name with a location. No pets has this man, but he travels widely, recording impressions of things that he finds, and shares them whenever he can.




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