Flesh Body Bodhisattva
the first one thousand days, eat nothing
but seeds and berries, yet
uphold monastery duties.
chop wood, wash robes, break stones—
this strips the fat from the body, so after
i am gone, there is less to rot.
the next one thousand days, eat less.
pine needles, bark, roots. strip
the body of moisture. drink
tea from the sap of the urushi tree—
used to lacquer bowls—
highly poisonous, this induces vomiting, and kills
those—maggots, bacteria, worms—
who would wither sacred flesh.
some days, swallow river stones.
everything to preserve this
from the ravages of
pray. chant. raise
the bell every day, until one day,
then the stone tomb, just
enough for the lotus position,
for the last one thousand days.
Aimee Lim is a writer from Arcadia, CA. Her debut novel for children, The Spindle of Fate, will be released in June 2024 with Macmillan.