Author: Diana Woodcock
Location: Doha, Qatar
Presently teaching at Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar, Diana Woodcock worked nearly eight years in Tibet, Macau, and on the Thai-Cambodian border. In 2007 she won the Creekwalker Prize for Poetry. In 2006 she received an Honorable Mention in the Nimrod's Pablo Neruda Poetry Competition, and won an International Publication Prize in Atlanta Review
's Poetry Competition. She's been awarded residencies at MICA/Rochefort-en-Terre, Vermont Studio Center, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and in the Everglades National Park. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Nimrod, Atlanta Review, Wisconsin Review, Hawaii Pacific Review, Litchfield Review,
and other journals, as well as in numerous anthologies.
March 17, 2008 I could not shake
the thought of you in flames.
Throughout the day whispering
the names of those I know still
living in your center, on your
periphery. Felt your misery.
Smelled burning shops, overturned
cars, Chinese flags. Saw smoke rising
incense-like over the Potala and Jokhang.
Heard the rumblings of a hundred
tanks moving through your hallowed
streets. Remembered the soldier who
narrowly missed driving over me, knocking
me down—bicycle and body sprawled
on the ground as he sped past laughing.
Today I said it out loud to no one
in particular, to the nameless faces
in the crowd, "I never left you nor
loved any city more." So tonight
I'll fill seven prayer bowls, make a
mandala out of Arabian desert sand,
remember as I dangle my feet in Gulf
waters the source of the Ganges,
and wonder if indeed I am a certain
lama's reincarnation. I'll take
that long flight back, walk the
famished, enflamed road leading
to the holy city where I'll rise up
like incense, a faithful wife burning
on her husband's pyre because I
can't forget you, most fragile
tragic city of Tibet.