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To touch the Earth
as the Buddha did
is to feel your own
personality in all of
its moist and firm
and pliable and dry
lumpiness. Your very
body bears witness
to your deepest, most
essential duties, rights,
godly responsibilities.

To touch a tomb
the weight of these
bears down on you
as the mossy stone
presses down on soil
amid the pungent loam.
No longer whitewashed,
the inward decay seeps
out, a viscous fluid
which sticks to the
fingers and nostrils
until you finally learn.

To touch a corpse
as Lord Śiva does,
with tenderness and
gentle smile, is to
take up that lesson,
that mantle of God
which wraps itself
freely and with no
heft about your merely
human shoulders. That
is not the end, but
the beginning of the
first day you have
ever been awake to see.