Monday, February 14, 2005

Mekhong River, again

It seems natural to write about the river in my back yard. In the mornings, I meet neighbors, observe the river life, see the festivals in Thailand on the other side of the river. On Sunday, I joined a ceremony for a neighbor; he was holding the 100 day feast for the death of his wife. On this occassion, everyone comes to help make merit for the deceased, to help with a better rebirth.

It has been unnaturally hot and dry. The water level in the river is very low. The Mekhong has been part of many things. I thought of this poem today about it:

Reservoir of Tears

The Mekhong flows through the layers of Asia,
From the mountains of China to the sea.

In the day, it is brown as a dirt road in a jungle,
At twilight, it merges into the sky
An artery providing life to legends,
To boys springing from a half-submerged tree,
For a man throwing a net
Which glitters in the light and is filled with fat-bellied fish

At other times, it has run red with blood
Carrying hyacinths, plastic garbage bags,
krathong filled with offerings to the water spirits,
a log with eyes that looks at the sun.

This year, the water is low and muddy;
The farmers talk quietly, their eyes on the sky and on the Swirling eddies.
They talk about their fears
There will be no water for rice
And the fish will go away.
The water for crying is always easy to find,
It lurks underground, a hidden reservoir,
Ready to rush out when the surface is bruised.

A lone person stands at the edge of the shore,
I approach from behind.
As I look at the river, I know
I have never seen the back of my head before.

copyright 2005 c.p.lew

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