Maris O’Rourke – Buddha in Paris

O Rourke LE Aotearoa NZ P&W April 2023

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Live Encounters Aotearoa New Zealand Poets & Writers April 2023

Buddha in Paris, poems by Maris O’Rourke

Buddha in Paris

In Paris you can buy a stuffed vulture at Deroylle, the taxidermy
shop of wild dreams. It lurks at the top of the circular staircase,
beady eyes fixed on anyone with €4,300 and the stomach
for it. Maybe Huang Yong Ping got a discount for bulk-buying?

Five feathered sons of Judah feast on Huang’s Boudhha,
one of those fat jolly Buddhas with an enigmatic smile,
almost a smirk, as if he knows something they don’t,
entrails writhing across the floor from a hole in his stomach.

Familiar with being pulled to pieces Huang’s Boudhha surveys,
prays – as the preying vultures close in. I bought my Buddha
in Kathmandu. A thin ascetic Buddha, hand raised, thoughtful
gaze, as he contemplates the stacks of stones beside the spa.

George Pompidou Centre, Paris
Intestins de Boudhha 2006: sculptor Huang Yong Ping (born 1954)


I’m haunted by dead babies
who slip in at 3 a.m. via
glimpses from yesterday’s news.

It was a cold night she didn’t notice the baby asleep on the bed as she threw her coat down hurried to join the party others followed fluttered down like layers of dead leaves blanked his feeble cries the mother’s screams as she tore into the heap later didn’t wake him.
Death by Misadventure the verdict.

I try to avoid them, turn away
my eyes, bang hands over my ears,
sing la la la la loudly.

It was a hot day she didn’t remember the baby asleep in the back as she locked the car rushed to work sweat trickled down his cheeks a tsunami filled his mouth swamped his thin sobs his mother’s shrieks as she clawed at the car seat couldn’t wake him.
Forgotten Baby Syndrome the verdict.

Sometimes I explore, read more,
in the hope they’ll go away if
I understand what happened.

It was a drunken evening she forgot she’d taken the baby into bed to feed him fell into a deep sleep crushed his frail chest rolled over his failing breath the mother’s wails as she rocked his cold body back and forth in the morning wouldn’t wake him.
Death by Suffocation the verdict.

I’m haunted by grieving
mothers who slip in at 3 a.m.
carrying dead babies.

© Maris O’Rourke

Maris O’Rourke describes herself as a poet and peregrina, a writer and walker. She has been writing for 10 years and published 10 books – a memoir (Zigzags and Leapfrogs); a family history; two poetry collections (Singing With Both Throats and Paradox); and six children’s books (two in Te Reo). She lives in Mt Eden with her whānau and regularly retreats to Whaingaroa/Raglan to write and walk.

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