Jalina Mhyana
Pains of Pilgrimage

Soon I will visit Thailand
with my two small daughters -

For good luck a friend gave me
a Thai princess ring, the ring being
a tiny replica of sharp temple spires
that impale gods as they float by

Thailand translates to free land,
free for all but the gods
who wave from the temple tops
like ghost flags

When I wear the pointy
princess ring I scratch myself
by accident –
minor spillings of blood where it has
pierced me & I wonder
how many miniature gods
I’ve caught on the tip of it

Each time I’m cut
I imagine their invisibilities
entering my body,
inoculations of smaller gods
to prepare me for
the larger ones
I’ll meet on my journey

Ghosts in the Tree

It’s not unusual, this vandalism
of gods -
religious genocide to ensure
the enemy’s prostrations
are prayerless

And that’s why,
in the ancient Thai kingdom
of Ayuthaya you can still see
a severed Buddha head
entangled in the roots
of a Banyan tree

The phi ton mai, ghosts in the tree,
take turns in the stone face
keeping watch through its eyes
for Burmese soldiers
intent on killing witnesses