A Bowl of Snow

From a mountain top bright with snow
I watch the peasants plant rice below.
Like motes in a bleary eye
or black counters on a go board
they shift position as the day unfolds.
At noon they eat beneath a shade tree
while I, squatting alone in a frigid cleft,
consume whatever alms the villagers left.

There are maoists hiding in the forest
who refuse to treat me as the poorest
of men despite my loincloth and worn sandals.
Crouching in a circle, guns within reach,
they ridicule contemplation as the quest
for absolute idleness, the price paid
by nabobs with a modicum of conscience
who lack the workingman’s commonsense.

Sunning on the rock beside me is a lizard,
the reincarnation of a powerful wizard
who understood that reptiles draw
attention quicker than women or money.
Guerrillas spend time cleaning their guns,
so where, lizard asks, are their minds
when they ream out the muzzle?
Why for them is sex such a puzzle?

The sun sets, the weary peasant clumps
home to her hut, and the lizard slumps
from the cold, dreading immobility:
The impure mind breeds crazy states.
The fall of capital will not end suffering.
As the lizard’s muttering trailed off,
the maoists relented, I myself mellowed,
and the hulking mountain soon followed.

Douglas Smith, formerly a teacher of Anthropology at York University, is a homeopathic physician.and author of several books on alternative medicine. It is claimed (although Dissident Voice has no proof of this!) that Doug and his partner grow the best garlic in Haliburton County. Read other articles by Douglas.