Mara

The Sherpa woman in Dingboche pointed to the lurid painted face of the Tibetan demon staring down at us from the wall of the temple.

She’s a bad one, she said simply.

When I came upon the demon fully formed, hunting in the high peaks for wayward truth seekers, her face drew back into a crimson, silent howl. Narrowed grey feline eyes turned and looked up and back at me in supine ravishment. A whole world of days passed between us in a series of tight hard breaths.

Go ahead, finish your thought, she said. Do what you must and I shall remember you by it.

The smaller animals were tight in their near burrows. The slower animals simply bowed and awaited their fate. I steadied my breathing, raised and drew back my bow, counting heartbeats.An ocean of time –or an eye blink–passed by under a dark Himalayan moon. Finally I let fly between the beats–the arrow disappearing in the tender gap between desire and devotion. Stone house walls in the villages along the river below shivered and fell like paper Jerichos.

The demon smiled, unperturbed. Do you want another shot? Perhaps closer this time?

My bow arm was now useless.The creases in my forehead crept across my body until I looked like a basket of dried wild apples.

No longer recognizing myself in the pools of melt water
trickling down from the Mother Goddess of the World,
I slung my bow and went the road i came.

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