Sunday, April 17, 2016
Rising Tides and Wishing Wells
While swimming together off the coast of Rangoon last winter, my Burmese mermaid sister Khin Thida spoke of Burma's decades of unrest, continuing human rights abuses, most recently of the Muslim Rohingya people, the confinement of political prisoners, and tentative hopes that democracy will take root where there has been no civil society for over half a century. Our tears for Burma flowed and became one with our Mother ocean.
Burmese women sit Asian style
squat, knees to chins,
sarongs crumpled around fair legs.
They exchange words on markets
and husbands and children.
They may walk to town in the hot noon sun.
The jungle steams behind their backs
Hissing and spotted,
alive with poison,
and among the banyans,venomous eyes
and crying elephants laboring in the dust.
Down by the Irrawaddy, fishing boats come.
At the train station, a boy from Dehra Dun
And in his eyes are English boarding schools and beggars
And snow capped Himalayas.
Village women pass with jasmine
woven through black hair.
The scent of frangipani lingers after them.
Soon the monsoons will come to wash
the dust from the dry earth.
At dusk, the women walk toward home
down Mandalay Road.
The jungle hisses in the night.
The train from Dehra Dun arrives with the boy
but his hair is gray now
and his eyes have seen more
than English boarding schools and beggars
and snow capped Himalayas.