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A Poem by Thich Nhat Hanh

Life has left her footprints on my forehead.
But I have become a child again this morning.
The smile, seen through leaves and flowers,
is back to smooth away the wrinkles,
as the rains wipe away footprints on the beach.
Again a cycle of birth and death begins.

I walk on thorns, but firmly, as among flowers.
I keep my head high.
Rhymes bloom among the sounds of bombs and mortars.
The tears I shed yesterday have become rain.
I feel calm hearing its sound on the thatched roof.
Childhood, my birthland, is calling me,
and the rains melt my despair.

I am still here alive, able to smile quietly.
O sweet fruit brought forth by the tree of suffering!
Carrying the dead body of my brother,
I go across the rice field in the darkness.
Earth will keep you tight within her arms, my dear,
so that tomorrow you will be reborn as flowers,
those flowers smiling quietly in the morning field.
This moment you weep no more, my dear.
We have gone through too deep a night.

This morning,
I kneel down on the grass,
when I notice your presence.
Flowers that carry the marvelous smile of ineffability
speak to me in silence.

The message,
the message of love
and understanding,
has indeed come to us.

Written by Thich Nhat Hanh in 1964 in Saigon. Printed in
1966 by the Fellowship of Reconciliation
as a Christmas card.

Excerpted from Call Me By My True Names, 1999, Parallax Press.

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