In Transit

The Buddhists say
that each flame is from the same
Fire.

And so here we are again
inbetween the oceans and the earth
and the endless sky
moving from Oblivion to Oblivion
our lives only agitations in space
born from thought to actualization
solids change, nations struggle
and people are born and born again
and as the sea moves the land
so our soul moves our body and
billions of atoms stir for an instant
believing they are people
on a plane beween Paris and Saigon
and nobody knows us
except the inscrutable stars.

And in our journey between birth and death
we dare not stop
because the real world might crowd in on us
as real as a boy in the Saigon street
pulling himself on a cart
his legs bent behind his back
a child twisted beyond human recognition.

And I remember the lepers in Calcutta
their fingers gone
sometimes laughing with uncontrollable joy
which brings tears to my eyes today
because we are they as we say “Namaste”
and we, like them, only want to be seen.
In Calcutta there were old eyes then
watching over the souls and beating hearts
and the sweet cranky voice
of Mother Teresa
bringing hope to the street
huddled under tents
as tourists washed
the leper’s feet.

We only kill and fear and hurt and take
because we don’t know who we are.
But just as the Calcutta leper said “Namaste”
the Saigon cycle driver shrugged and laughed and said,
“No problem.”
And so we are the same
and bow to the other
and having shared our souls
smile and walk away.
Friendship comes
as we ride on the back of the motorcycle
of a man we have never met
and know for an instant that our lives are entwined
by the fear of mutual destruction
and then we are friends.
And here, on this airplane,
inbetween the Universes of the unborn and the dead
our transit only an instant of separation
between those two points
I nod and smile at an ancient man.
And he understands my meaning
and smiling, nods back.

a poem
by
Paul Bourgeois
(dedicated to Marc from WUSC)
October 10, 1998.

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