Wednesday, October 14, 2015

An August Day

August 11

I wake with the first light paling the sky
Tea in the thermos, still hot.  I stir in sngampe
And make kolak, eat it with cheese and butter.
Quick to walk down, carrying a bundle
Of barkless poles over a shoulder,
I visit Abi Dolkar, and she entreats for help
With repair of a yura, her garden’s supply
Of water, where our carrots also rest, shaded
By a heavily laden apricot, trunk thick and furrowed dark.
Pile stones, carve a channel, sweep gravel
Make a way among the rocks, under a fallen trunk.
The water flows slowly, this way.

Walk back to join Ache Konchok Palmo
Who smiles and ushers me in
For breakfast chhang with sgnampe.
The pathway of the water that feeds
Her fields is gone, three feet by three feet
By ten of piled stone, gone,
So I shovel rocks, gravel and sand
Into the basket of Ama Baloo.  She carries
And dumps, filling the new passageway. 
Meme Angchuk, old and small, and strong,
knows how to move stones,
And we lift flat ones and square ones together,
Tipping them toward the stream, rolling them.
Through mud.  Acho Angdus brings tarps
And cloths, to place among rocks. We guide water,
Cold and clear, into a new space, created
By a new wall of great stones, three feet high and wide,
Twenty feet long and from now on guiding
Rushing water through the stream-border wall,
Through the campsite, to the thirsty fields.
Three days, thousands of pounds of stone
That fell from the mountain one day or night
Long ago, and it is done.

Find fifteen minutes to sit outside,
Then gratefully eat eggs and fresh bread.

Go to Abi Yangchan, take the sheep and goats,
Body tired.  Walk.  Send them up on a huge slope
And strike up bedrock spurs nearby in search
Of skotse, the wild garlic chives.  End up above
The herd on a ridgetop, and a fresh new view
Of the valleys and sharp ridges,
Along with a whipping wind, takes the breath,
The bands and planes of red bedrock
Shooting through mountains
Across valleys.

Return.  Speak with Ben in the field.
Offer some Ladakhi words, translate
For Azhang Tundup and Ache Tashi,
Help finish the big field’s harvest.

Go meet Nyilza Angmo, greeted
By Ama Gunzes and her Aba
And their shower of gifts.
Leave for the gong ma, and find
At our home, Ama Baloo, little momma,
Who instructs us until dark falls,
Too long, so she will descend in the dark,
While we squeeze dough
Between our fingers for the boiling pot.

No comments: