I wrote this poem last year when my son was leaving Bali after returning there, to his birthplace, for five years…
It's a long story, but to put it in a nutshell, my son is half Balinese and went there to reclaim his birthright. I had lived there for eight years when he was born, integrating and becoming a deep, intrinsic part of the culture. To this day, I stay linked, but when he left, I felt my lifeline to that island fade a little. I grieved his departure. I understood that it was time for him to leave, just like I knew when it was time for him to journey there as a young man. It was his rite of passage and in many ways, it was also mine.
Although my own blood is not Balinese, my afterbirth is buried there next to the family temple along with all generations past. I am considered blood to them, through a marriage that dismantled, and forevermore, through my son whose blood is mixed with an ancient, three thousand year old culture that calls me home every day. I wrote this the day he left Bali. Me, on the other side of the world, but my spirit was there witnessing this ritual.
The Thrum of his Prayer
by Leslie Caplan
The restless angst of spirit calls you to sit still
As you pace the room up and down the walls
your ancestors weep for your departure
And as you leave,
the pulse of my lifeline fades
just a little
Like a voice muffled behind closed doors.
You return from one place to another
Wings stretch across sky
where rolling hills turn volcanic
and dry crisp terrain turn wet with rain
As roots slither beneath
the surface of Earth,
the thrum of your prayer
join your hands together
Swirls of incense smoke billow
from the offering you make.
You lean into the whispers
and with holy water, adhere dried grains of rice
to your third eye
As you inhale the wisdom born to you,
you kneel at the altar that first placed
the soles of your feet to the ground
You are closer now
to the land, to the flower petals that symbolize
a thousand of your lifetimes
Long fingers reach inside layers of smoke
to adorn your hair with flowers.
You bow to the light already inside you.
I bear witness, the glint of obsidian in your eyes
They come from me,
yet deeper still,
they are from the same earth
that buried your placenta
deep inside the chamber
of a three thousand year old Banyan tree
This rite of passage is complete.
You leave there a man
as the child in you remembers
the many languages of your tongue
Wet with flavor
Wet with spiced earth
Wet with knowing that when you leave,
you are never gone.
Embodying the strength of the warrior,
you can move freely now
between the hemispheres of your belonging.
Leslie Caplan is a passionate writer and has been published internationally. She is a professional Writing Coach and editor who encourages and evokes the strongest, deepest expression of the writer's voice and heart. She also facilitates writing workshops where writing is used as a tool for revealing and healing. She lives in the small town of Ashland, Oregon and you can connect with her on her website here.
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