Poetry / February 2010 (Issue 10)

Siem Reap, Cambodia

by Greg Santos

Photograph by Tammy Ho

Before stepping into a taxi
a young girl struggles to take the city with her:

Warm, sticky air bathing the street market,
comforting scent of fragrant rice,
pungent odor of dry fish,
raw flesh hung on butchers' hooks,
squawking of chickens in rusty wire prisons,
crescendo of rickshaws, scooters, bicycles;
the city she will no longer call home.

As she speeds away, the city recedes into memory,
as does the rolling countryside,
once dotted by women tending to the paddies,
children splashing among water buffalo.

Now, echoes of distant missiles pierce her memories,
murders of crows dive into reddened fields.

The faces of Angkor watch sadly
as their city crumbles,
as another one of their children flees,
taking nothing with her but me,
gently growing inside.

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