Skip to Content


By Sarah Audsley

You will return to the temple, swept clean,
tea sprouting in rows, clappers of bells ringing out  
as incense burn at the foot of the golden Buddha.

A flaky croissant’s butter & the bitter taste
of bold coffee will churn your insides hiking
up Jangsan Mountain. The monk will pour

hot tea & tell you to remember there are 300,000
universes running parallel to each other. How
might everything be different? Why desire

material goods? Cellphones, diamonds, a lover,
a new car. You will find yourself in the presence
of a white blaze, a brush of feather, an infusion of calm.

Out of the monk’s mouth will slip words,
but they will only sound like rain falling
on hard stone, or coyotes crying to the wind—

You will know the cadence but not the meaning.
Why did you not learn the language? Study the symbols?
You should have tied your tongue, pressed to the top,

then against your bottom front teeth. Now you
must practice feeling lost in your birth-land, feet tucked
under crossed legs, listening to your muffled silence.

This monk knows & he will tell you, truth—
pain sears, becomes blister, an imprint & blood
cannot translate. So, you bend, kneel down.




Listen as Sarah Audsley reads Homegoing.

Added: Thursday, February 22, 2024  /  Used with permission.
Sarah Audsley
Photo by Carolyn Kehler.

Sarah Audsley is the author of Landlock X (Texas Review Press). A Korean American adoptee, a graduate of the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College, and a member of The Starlings Collective, Audsley lives and works in northern Vermont.

Image Description: Sarah Audsley wears a floral print jacket and silver dangly earrings. She has shoulder-length dark brown hair and brown eyes. Sarah stands in front of a blurred outdoor background with a tall pine tree to her left.

Other poems by this author