Before the guru went away
he'd put aside possessions
a neatly folded tower
of cloth (some hand woven)
a few wrought silver boxes
befittingly inlaid and inside one
some monochromes in A5 size:
self-portrait with trophies for the Raj
three seated men, turbaned, with implacable faces
("saints" inscribed on the back)
beside them, a full set of teeth.

"He's gone to die" the followers said
"Up the mountain" and they took the path
calling his name in vain
On a branch, his spectacles swung
specked with rain.

The guru had looked his last
on the world below.

Later they divvied up his belongings
all the cloth, the silver, the photos
only one declined. Hers, the spectacles
hoping to see the way.

Part true story inspired by Carrie’s photo prompt for The Sunday Muse

26 thoughts on “Trappings

  1. What an incredible story poem you have woven here Laura! I can see the guru’s journey away and his priceless possessions. The ending is absolutely wonderful,; vision in both it’s meanings! An absolutely amazing prose poem!

  2. What a remarkably touching prose poem! It reminded me of going through my husband’s dresser drawer after he died….a moment I had not revisited for a very long time.

  3. This has a strong and universal narrative, well deployed in a prose sort of directness, yet never losing the arc of poetry. When we go to die, we will need a different set of specs, and our possessions will be the tools of others, indeed. A pleasure to read.

  4. Very cool. Made me think about Gandi, those metal spectacles of his. “Full set of teeth” a perfect detail. And in the end only once disciple who really understood.

  5. This reminds me of how the present Dalai Lama, when he was two, identified a pair of spectacles belonging to the preceding Dalai Lama as “Mine!”, thus identifying himself as his reincarnation. Very cool poem. I love it.

  6. The words “the Raj” gives a key to who could the Guru be, specially with specs. The poem takes me to the late 40’s of the last century. Love the details.
    Hope this time the comment posts.

    1. thank you for taking the trouble to comment Sumana – this guru had no fame but lived at the time of the Raj and well beyond- he is part of a personal yogic lineage

  7. We’ve been going through photos lately (new year organizing) and those lines leapt out, the journey in flashcard but not in map. An idea to linger over.

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