How to Dream a Beautiful Death

In the dream of his death
Rinpoche returns to the room
of his youth – the wooden beams,
the barking dogs, the fields
of potato and wheat; his mother
with her prayer beads
by the window grilles,
muttering grace after grace;
his sister in the kitchen
preparing flasks of tea.

In the dream of his death
Rinpoche sits in a fur-lined
coat hemmed into the window light,
waiting for his father to come home
and hold him. Gone, gone,
his father says, Gone altogether beyond.
Because this is how he wants to go –
like an ochre flower in a field,
hungry and alive, the wind rushing in,
scattering him everywhere.

This is how it could be
in our own dreams of dying.
If we believed in mandalas, those maps
that guide us from periphery
to centre, and over to the other shore,
we’d know we’re always where
we’re meant to be – lying down
among the trees, covered in coats
of bark and mud, waiting for the sages
to lead us out of the forests, to the sea.