sal or shala tree, under which buddha is said to have been both born and died. photo by author.

the three trees

sonnet for vesak

a shala tree, within lumbini park,
obligingly provided firm support
when mayadevi needed to resort
to giving birth while clinging to its bark.

beneath a bodhi tree, her son - with dark
awareness that this life is cruel and short,
and having fled the shakas’ royal court -
would find enlightenment’s transcendent spark.

a third tree’s memory, in time of doubt,
had steered him from a harsher path; in youth,
rose-apple’s pleasant shade kept off the sun;
near-death from fasting, softer thoughts won out -
siddhartha saw the middle way, the truth
that not all earthly pleasures should be shunned.

alex guenther. interview here and book here.



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Alex Guenther

Alex Guenther

teacher and author living in bangkok, thailand. poetry available here: