Palm trees, like old pilings, tip
in the sand toward the Maldive Islands still.
a slice of green coconut, floats
in a sky streaky with cloud.
Eight winters after the tsunami hit,
the coral reef is reinventing itself
by fits and starts, by hook and foot
Patience comes easy to gastropods.
news is of atrocity, in this like
before-, during, after-
war news everywhere: rape, torture, mass graves,
the usual list, human power
on the bodies of others.
Deep in the once
jungled, once war-riven
Tamil north, a Buddha carved in living stone
still falls smiling into death,
serene these last thousand years.
How many wars
has that peace survived?
It's said that just before he died,
the historical Buddha
sent south to Sri Lanka
a slip from the original
enlightenment tree at Bodh Gaya.
That tree planted between the sites of tsunami and war
is now the oldest tree on earth, a living
emblem of compassion
for these last two thousand years.
It's guarded night and day at gunpoint.
The Missouri Review