Prelude Prophecy of a Reincarnated Lama by Annie Bien

My child,

Your family believes in the five elements displayed in prophecies. We originate from a lineage of humans who sees yogis levitate in lotus position, highly realized gurus paint rainbows in the sky, heat their bodies in meditation during blizzards, we hear conch shells in valleys and measure the distance through their resonance even when there’s no ocean. An oracle once intoned:

Outsiders will conceal signs—

beings of degenerate times will bring seductive
distractions to torment minds, faithlessness
will grow, agitation will rest in the hearts of foreigners

whose doubt seeks to destroy faith,

regions living in harmony will be uprooted,
blood, disturbances, and arguments will prevail.

Lakes will endure storms, waves will beach fish

Heat will melt glaciers and native animals disappear.

But then a day arrives when double rainbows

arc from valleys to mountain crests, and conch

shells will resound for hours unplayed.

One child will be lost, another gained.

Make offerings to this child.

I clutched my belly, frightened by a red splatter across my vision, a dove flew from my right ear, cooing. The bird dissolved into a newborn, radiant as sunrise singing, “Change his name to hide his identity, he must leave. Name him, Jampa, to reveal his nature, love. But hide him. Protect him. For a time, he’ll be known as Jaz. His appearance might disappear but never his love for you.”

I woke up and gave birth to you. You gurgled, OM. Your father rejoiced, lighting a butter lamp.

Lovingly yours,


Annie Bien has published flash fiction, poetry, and translations of Buddhist scriptures and commentaries to gain perspective on the world. She is a flash fiction winner and finalist of the London Independent Story Prize, a Pushcart Nominee, and is English translator of the Tibetan Buddhist Canon at 84000, Translating the Words of the Buddha. 

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