Tuesday, February 5, 2008


We end our trip with a walk at sunrise up to a peak. By the time we near our destination the sun makes the rocky trails easier to see. Farmers and women with bundles of firewood appear from nowhere, warning us of hazards ahead.

We come to visit the remnants of the Bo culture. While the Bo flourished, tens of thousands of their caskets were here, suspended in mid-air. Now, along the mountain cliffs, only a few hundred remain in clusters above Crab Stream. Cut from a single piece of hardwood, each weighs several hundred kilograms. While some are found in natural caves on rock crevices, others hang mid-way between heaven and earth by wooden stakes fastened in holes bored into the cliff face, 20 to 100 metres above the ground.

We ask our guide: Why are the coffins hung from high cliffs? Does some part of the Bo people still exist? Where might they be? His answer is a mere shrug of his shoulders.

Bo coffins
like nests in a tree
scarlet bamboo poles
anchor them in place

green strands
of the spring trees
do not remain
on the mountain's rocky face
but wither

looking to
the guide's voice
for direction
though we cannot see him
he is still here

by Patricia Prime
Auckland, New Zealand

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