I. For years a friend believed in reincarnation while I was terrified of death.
On the beliefs of Buddha, vicarious, like a diver on the edge
of the over-soul,
her toes curled in monotone prayer.
I thought, when I heard her brush off fear,
of many saffron and earth monks trailing a blaze line
up a mountain
(because everything was easier for imagery, then).
Still, this brought me no comfort:
I thought of myself, and of her, and of the world,
as having pieces lost through living. If you go barefoot
on the cold, ragged earth,
your calluses mark the end of your newborn youth;
and the harshness of your windworn body will grow like an oak
but for nowhere near as long.