Conversation with my guts after looking at the tangka of the wrathful god Aksobhya – a poem by Sara Epstein

Conversation with my guts after looking at the tangka of the wrathful god Aksobhya, a buddha associated with transforming anger:

I see you, my guts, in all your wrathful glory!
Your red rivers and rivulets reach out in a ring around me,
circling and radiating heat and inflammation!
In the center is the image of your guardian deity,
a dancing man with three eyes open wide,
one in the middle of your forehead,
a fierce frown on your face,
you wear a sash of decapitated heads
all looking startled, like Nearly Headless Nicks
all in a row.

You dance in your gold and turquoise pointy shoes
atop a giant tiger who holds two victims in its paws,
one male and bloody,
the other a naked female twisting to please the tiger.
You hold a dagger, scorpion, chalice,
waving them to cut through whatever needs cutting through.
All this takes place on a bed of lotus flowers
in a lake in which skulls float by in groups of three.

Above you is a strange birdlike creature with arms,
who sprinkles confetti of powerful truths as she flies.
The sky overhead is deep blue with wondrous swirly clouds in the distance.
The whole picture is surrounded by geometric designs like a
triumphant brocade, whose gold and green and blue lines seem
to trumpet from the red background that royalty is here, now.

As I sit here honoring the years you have been all wrapped up
inside my guts, waiting to be celebrated and released
I marvel at your strength, your patience, your power!
Where shall we go together on the mighty tiger with the green eyes?
What wicked shall we extinguish and burn up?
What cool pools shall we swim in?
What will our song and dance be?


Sara Epstein is a clinical psychologist from Winchester, Massachusetts, who writes poetry and songs, especially about light and dark places. Her poems are forthcoming or appeared in Silkworm, Paradise in Limbo, Mom Egg Review, Chest Journal, Literary Mama, and two anthologies: Sacred Waters, and Coming of Age.

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