Silosoth’s Secret Roads to Himapan
There are at least seven secret roads
To fabled Himapan Forest through timeless Laos
Since the nights before Lane Xang and Fa Ngum.
Several routes beyond these are known, some unique,
Opening to a certain watchful eye when the stars are right.
At least one follows the flow of a sacred river,
One lurks within a fractured isle full of fear,
Another, a secluded beach of bleached bones you know
By behemoth buzzards and a dancing ocean of acid.
If you take the journey, bring provisions, seek wisdom.
Be prepared to wander a lifetime.
It is beyond belief how easily you can get sidetracked
Before you even reach the gateless gate.
Suspend assumptions and ego, anchoring you
To ordinary worlds without escape, missing exits
Plain as a fragrant dok champa by the same road
Of profound old Buddhas and young nak princes,
Crafty farmers, lovely kinnaly and compassionate vets.
There are no signs to assure you, and many leaps to make.
Squeezing through caverns, drinking from strange wells,
Someone has been at least that far before, once, seeking.
But doubt is a poisoned golden dagger, honed for you,
A jade cup of surrender and apologies in 10,000 tongues.
Curiosity can sustain.
A good laugh might summon a brave vanon with time enough
To point part of the way, if they aren’t full of mischief that day,
Laughing like Xieng Mieng or some green koala.
Hermits and hunters have found hidden nooks and vales.
True lovers can spot the easiest of the trails but there are trials:
Horrors of hostile titanic elephants, saber-toothed catfish,
Nefarious nyak loitering with bad maps and empty bellies.
Riddles meant for heroes and heroines are labyrinths
There are no true words for.
But if you really arrive, they shall sing songs of you.
Some might offer you the wild heart of a lotus to eat,
Or a delicious dish of sukara-maddava best avoided.
You might be entranced by a wondrous naree pon.
Some will challenge you, convinced you will not stay.
Others want to judge you at the holy peak of Mount Meru,
Claiming even Phou Ngeun Kailath cannot save you.
You cannot catalog the many wandering within these woods:
One leg, two legs, three legs, four legs, five legs,
Six legs, seven legs, eight legs, infinitely more, and none.
Some with wings, with hooves, or the strangest toes,
Tentacles, tusks, talons or tendrils for your tales.
Some part bird, part deer, or part fish or kraken.
Some part cloud, part kirin, part elephant or lean lion.
Some part star, part rhino, or part thundering horse.
Some part cow, part dog, part cat, or part cranky crab.
Some part crocodile, part nak, or part frail human.
Some part learned monkey, part ram, or part slime.
Some part fungi, part bug, or part squamous snake.
Some part tyger, part white rabbit, or part quirky rat.
Some are all of the above, or none.
Some stay the same like living mountains,
Others are never met the same way twice.
You can ask them their true name.
Once in a while, they’ll give it to you.
You can ask some for a ride back,
Or a ride forward.
There might be a price in any case.
Incidentally, if you make it after all we’ve said,
There is a simple sala in one quiet corner,
Where you can rest your dreaming head
For a moment.
If you peek closely, you might find a certain name,
And a last bit of advice before you finish your adventure.
Laos is, Laos was, Laos will be,
But sometimes you will not recognize it
Or the endless sea of your eternal self,
Returning to cosmic cycles to begin again