Climbing Above Rongbuk MonasteryA golden spire
draped with prayer-flag rainbows
burnished by summer snows
Point the way upward
beyond the human world—
the air gets thinner,
the end of the earth draws close.
Nothing but ice,
and rock, and wind, and sky—
life colors have vanished,
even the green of moss.
Gasping for breath
I crawl on hands and knees—
between bare stones
a purple blossom grows.
Keith Holyoak, raised on a dairy farm in
British Columbia, is now a Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the
University of California, Los Angeles. In addition to a volume of translations
from classical Chinese poetry, Facing the Moon: Poems of Li Bai and Du
Fu (Oyster River Press, 2007), he has published four volumes of his own
original poetry. The most recent is Oracle Bones: Poems from the Time
of Misrule (Goldfish Press, 2019). The poems included here appeared
in Foreigner: New English Poems in Chinese Old Style (Dos
Madres Press, 2012). Keith has been a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, and
is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He combined his
interests in psychology and poetry to write The Spider’s Thread:
Metaphor in Mind, Brain, and Poetry (MIT Press, 2019).