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The Road to Sertang Temple

A Monk speaks,

"The Hidden Land is finished."


I’m awakened as a flock of Golden

Plovers in winged poise scatter

like flying rainbow fish.

I seek the Gold Mandala

trekking in the Himalayas,

hiking to secret falls,

fern-bordered rocks,

paddling up rivers to beyul*

among ice peaks,

traversing mountains

inscribed with snow.


Water torrents cascade from cliffs

and wind hums among oak trees.

Our prayer flags tatter and tear

as we take the perilous paths

trudging over cliffs in smoky fog

capturing the soul of silence.

Juniper scents envelop hillsides.

Chortens* of Buddha engrave

stone walls by caves of saints.

A Lama chants, dances, burns incense;

as Monks in royal robes meditate.

In the courtyard, musk deer and wild goats

are sacrificed in the chasm where Hanuman langurs* once lapped

holy water.


We cross the bridge where forest fires,

fanned by winds,

roar through gunmetal air.

Under clouds we camp in the meadow

with the vision of the Valley of Bliss

floating off into the galaxy.


- Carol Leavitt Altieri


*Beyul, remote sanctuaries;
*chortens, universal shrines symbolizing the one Buddha;
*Hanuman langurs, a slender, long-tailed Hindi monkey of the genus Presbytis.


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