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0 Comments | Nov 26, 2012

The Storyteller of Kathmandu

Storyteller TreeThe hearing of this tale
will request of you a few
fragile moments, dear reader.
Best settle yourself
neath a wide-arm tree.
Purge your mind
of all encumbrance.
Imagine a place
where the sun does not shine
so much as bathe.
Where the snow does not fall,
but envelops
like your first baby blanket.

Kathmandu is such a place.
Or at least it is
in the tales our hero weaves.
His words will transport you
to times and journeys long past.
His voice will compel emotions
you have never felt or even imagined.
His vision will make you wonder
what has been wrong
with your eyes these many years.

But, as you listen,
pay special heed as well,
for his stories are
never quite what they seem.
If you have, at some point in your life,
seen the novelty plastic bird
that rocks forward and back,
dipping its head ever lower
until, at last, it drinks
from the water,
then you will know
what it is like
to hear the storyteller’s tales.
For it takes a good deal
of advance and retreat,
rise and fall,
inching ever closer,
to get to the pure truth of things.
Only then, just when you think
you have it in your grasp,
it scuttles away,
leaving you to begin
the search anew.

The storyteller
exists all around us.
Yet no one sees him,
though everyone knows
someone who has.
Some accounts place him
in the market,
crouched in a dark corner,
mumbling to himself
like a madman.
Others say he wanders about
the village, never
resting, only sharing
his tales
with those who
walk beside him.
And a few even say
he hides above
in the trees,
shaking loose stories
that drift and blow
around us
like so many crisp leaves,
all the while
humming in scarce discernible
soughs of laughter.

I never met the storyteller.
I never even saw him.
But I once came upon an old man
who smiled knowingly when I said
I was searching for him.
The old man
ever so slowly,
a trembling hand
to the sky,
spoke for a moment
in words I did
not understand,
then turned and walked away,
quietly humming a tune
I might have heard
once long ago
as I lay in the shadow
of a wide-armed tree
on some bright blue afternoon.

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