Pagodas of Bagan

Clair Chilvers

Green countryside crisscrossed by dirt tracks
pagodas everywhere
an expression of the search for Nirvana.
Most are brick, massive, imposing
some smaller ones, solid stupas
their treasures revealed only by earthquakes.
A few restored, covered with gold leaf
with delicate jewelled orbs.
We leave our shoes outside and walk barefoot
on cool tiles.
Worshippers at the statues of Lord Buddha
offer food and alms.
We learn to tell old Buddhas from the new
by fingers' length.
The great pagodas have markets
selling postcards, Orwell's book, and sandals.

Crops grow between them
and herds of hump-backed cows,
that pull the carts and ploughs, roam free.
In the morning air balloons drift overhead
at sunset we congregate on small hills
and see them black against the streaked red sky

Main Location:

Old Bagan, Myanmar (Burma)

Other locations:

The Pagodas of Bagan in Myanmar

Photo by Clair Chilvers