Pilgrims in Tibet – a poem by Emily Strauss

Pilgrims in Tibet

We climbed the scree slope
high above tree line
bleached stones lined the path,
found enormous prayer wheels
mounted in a square structure,
shuffled clockwise, touched each one,
the wheels turning in the wind
frayed flags blew, faded colors
from winter suns, summer suns

searing at altitude. The pilgrims
prostrated themselves at each step
months away from the temple,
at night they boiled millet
over a tiny dung fire
before rolling into thick woolen robes
ground frozen hard by morning.

We walked on following our camels,
nodded at the pilgrims as we passed
they hardly noticed,
intent on kneeling on leather-shod
knees, leather-lined palms,
leather-bound foreheads
hour after hour, dust-coated
at 11,000 feet, we breathed hard.


Emily Strauss has an M.A. in English, but is self-taught in poetry, which she has written since college. Over 500 of her poems appear in a wide variety of online venues and in anthologies, in the U.S. and abroad. She is a Best of the Net and twice a Pushcart nominee. She is interested in the American West and the narratives of people and places around her. She is a retired teacher living in Oregon.

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