Arts & Culture · Poetry

Poetry Sunday: The Devouring

largeHungry Tigress Jataka, panel of the Tamamushi Shrine, Asuka period, ca. 650. Horyu-ji, Japan.
Source: Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain


In one story from the Jataka tales, an ancient Buddhist text that reveals the Buddha’s past lives, Prince Sattva sacrifices his body to feed a starving tigress and her cubs. Hunger motivates generosity; above all, art sustains us in this spare, intricately carved poem by Amanda Turner.


Hungry Tigress Jataka

This morning, Winter. Water falls to wood
and then stone. She thinks of it,
the lacquer painting of Siddhartha,
the young man, placing his shirt
on the limb of an acacia tree. His descent
to the earth, to the hungry tigress
and her cubs, to the devouring.
In this painting, there is no graceful placement
of hands, a mudra of reassurance or charity.
No suggestion of Lokanatha’s palm,
of nectar. Only a cliff
and bamboo stalks.
Brushstrokes that could almost
catch his body.

This poem first appeared in Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art.


WVFC POETRY Amanda_Turner-1Amanda Turners poetry has appeared in Calyx, The Western Humanities Review, The Sycamore Review, Fourteen Hills, and other publications. She has taught poetry writing and composition at Santa Clara University, and has served as an assistant poetry editor for Poetry Northwest. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University, and is a grateful recipient of the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg prize. She currently lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband and their four-year-old daughter.


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