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The Tiger's Nest in Bhutan. Photo by Chelsea Ferrel.

The River, Mighty

A gap in the clouds

A break in the trees

A rock in the stream

And a pause in your speech.

The river flows strong as it carves up the fields

Where tall grass and buckwheat grows up past your heels.

The machete falls heavy on the sapling of pine,

And the whip cracks swiftly on those who act out of line.

He tells me I walk with too much speed in my pace,

I can tell he is tired from the look on his face.

For he has stayed up late defending his land

Chasing away boar with a sword in his hand.

He says if I am bored I must tell him directly,

But he could not ever know

That my silence implies a calm in my soul.

For the air here is clear like my quieted mind,

But thoughts upturn if I choose to stop being blind.


Welcome to paradise.

Where money is poured into the plants and the trees,

And plastic is thrown into rivers and streams.

Welcome to the valley of dragons and rain,

Where dissent is met with swift rap of the cane.

They’ll tell you that happiness is in fact a place.

They’ll tell you with smiles stitched on to their face.

Breathe in the air and dance in the monsoon,

Enjoy it while it lasts, for you’ll be gone quite soon.

For seventeen-thousand five-hundred Ngultrum

Each day must be packed with laughter and fun.

And you ask us why such a price for this sojourn,

Well for such immense beauty, the value will soar.

But maybe the reason that they keep you away

Is because the truth may arise if long is your stay.

Do not think long on the past of this nation,

Consider it simply as bumps on the road to salvation.

Plus, civilian casualties weren’t even recorded

And they were trying to taint the happiness we’ve supported.

We’ve scoured this place of stains on our flag,

So that you can enjoy the fruits of this land.

Why would you focus on the darkness below?

Just look at the mountains and the rivers that flow.

See how the stars fill up the dark sky,

And pay it no mind if at night you hear cries.

Order and peace as far as you can see,

Be grateful for the government that lets you be free.

For this is the land where the river flows strong

As it carves up the rice fields overseen by the dzong.

The river is mighty, do not swim against the flow,

And to you, lucky tourist, happiness we will show.