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Dorothy, Under The Bodhi Tree

The old bodhi tree rises from dirt,
Vishnu-armed, grasping green hearts
in heavenward hands; light

slopes over sinewed shoulders,
fans through open spaces, falls
in rays around my lotus self. A leaf

flickers, its rustle rousing me
out of my waking dream: I look
up, and see not an Oz monkey

but a temple monkey
emerge from the green canopy
above me. He is no Monkey King,

he has no wings, and I have no
Golden Cap to command him:
so he and I, we are equals

at the feet of Sri Maha Bodhi.
I confess to Monkey, tell him
I once thought God was a great

humbug, like the old Wizard
in the Palace of Oz, promises
like hot air lifting a balloon

over a horizon hidden by rainbows
I could never cross again
while a hundred more years

clung to my spirit, gifting me
with a profane tongue
and a lead weight in my chest: but

beneath this tree, I remember that
my Bodhisattva once wore a thorn crown
heavier than my years. Monkey says

nothing, lets me trace our common tree
in his cabochon eyes,
his fur-lined simian face. I think

Auntie Em would be shocked
to hear me think this way, but
a hundred years and a million tears

have changed me. Monkey and I watch
Sri Maha Bodhi, broad-branched,
salute the lemon-stained sky light

that lands at our feet and says:
hallelujah.


 

NBR3NicholsonphotosmallN.I. Nicholson is the editor-in-chief of Barking Sycamores, a literary journal publishing primarily neurodivergent (autistic, ADHD, bipolar, etc.) writers. Their work has appeared (credited as Nicole Nicholson) in Hyperlexia, qarrtsiluni, Red Wolf, and Awe in Autism. They are currently a poetry student in Ashland University’s Creative Writing MFA program. They live in Grove City, Ohio with their fiancé.