Bethany Rivers

Here & Now I am not here sitting on my cushion at the shrine, in front of a garlanded white rupa, with four white candles burning with the scent of fig and peony, my crossed legs becoming numb, the sun descending towards the horizon, shadows elongating, the blackbird ready with his last song of the day. Nor am I sitting crossed legged on bare floor boards in a bare room, tapestries on every wall, in front of a golden Buddha, with a monk chanting endlessly in the old language, in the centre of gardens tended to with love, with slowness of attention, where my bones recognise tranquillity for the first time, in the place where, 2,500 years ago, the Buddha took his first breath. I am not in any of these places. I am in all of them.

Right now at this very moment, she is lying down on a yoga mat in savasana, a cushion beneath her head and a thin blanket draped over her, by the breath-healer. This is the last day of her time at the ashram. The last of five days. This is the end of the second week of her travels in Nepal. She will spend another four weeks here. This all took place six years ago. This is still happening now. She told him her life story at the start of the week. He trained her in pranayama and mudras. This is the last day. This is the first day. In her mind, she sees an endless shoreline, gentle aquamarine waves, foaming and shushing onto endless golden sands, the sky is a gentle blue of evening and the temperature is perfect with a slight breeze. She is alone here. She is not alone here. White Tara is with her. Yet White Tara is not next to her or before her. White Tara is within her. The waves’ gentle breath never ceases. The shoreline never ends. The tranquillity is complete. Everything is healed here. Right now at this moment, she is back in England, at home, writing at her kitchen table, rain drizzling down onto the daffodils, a hot mug of white tea warming her insides. This happened last year. This will happen next week. Right now, at this very moment, this is all still happening.

Bethany Rivers was shortlisted for the Overton Poetry Prize and the Snowdrop Poetry Competition in 2019. She has two poetry pamphlets: ‘Off the wall’ from Indigo Dreams (2016) and ‘the sea refuses no river’ from Fly on the Wall Press (2019). Victorina Press published her book, ‘Fountain of Creativity: ways to nourish your writing’ (2019). She is Editor of As Above So Below online poetry magazine. She has taught creative writing for 14 years and continues to mentor writers.