Endowed in perpetuity by the Glenna Luschei Fund for Excellence

Sky Burial

Sky Burial

By Peter Pereira

Tibetan funeral ritual

He unwraps the corpse,
arranges the body upon the altar rock.

Saffron-robed monks begin to chant.
The burial master lights the sandalwood incense,
claps his hands three times,

calls Shey, shey! (Eat, eat!)
to the sacred vultures,
waiting among the pines.

Oh, to be released
to the sky this way.
Bones picked clean.

Not dust into dust,
but flesh into flesh.

Prairie Schooner, Vol. 80, No. 2 (Summer 2006), p. 21


Peter Pereira

Peter Pereira is a family physician in Seattle, and was a founding editor of Floating Bridge Press. His poems have appeared in Poetry, Prairie Schooner, New England Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, and Journal of the American Medical Association, and have been anthologized in 180 More: Extraordinary Poems for Everyday, and the 2007 Best American Poetry. They have also been featured online at Verse Daily and Poetry Daily, as well as on NPR’s The Writer’s Almanac. His books include What’s Written on the Body (Copper Canyon P), which was a finalist for the Washington State Book Award; Saying the World (Copper Canyon P), which won the 2002 Hayden Carruth Award; and the limited edition chapbook The Lost Twin (Grey Spider).

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