Cambodia Is

Cambodia is a white cow in a green rice field,
framed by palm trees
and towering white thunderheads.

Cambodia is dozens of gilded roofs
of temples
and monks in bright orange, walking in the heat.

Cambodia is a nine-year-old girl
pulling a cart of rubbish behind her,
while her little sister plays amongst the cans and bottles.

Cambodia is a huge black Lexus
slowly forcing its way through a sea of little black motorcycles.

Cambodia is a textured oil painting of Angkor Wat
in the dim corridors of Russian Market,
rolled and sold to a tourist.

Cambodia is the cool breeze off the Gulf of Thailand
piling up clouds on Bokor Mountain.

Cambodia is a street-vendor selling pork and rice each morning,
who knows her customers’ orders
even if not their names.

Cambodia is the killing fields,
and genocide,
and corruption, still the corruption, always the corruption.

Cambodia is a homeless woman drugging her baby
to beg more money
from good-hearted, ignorant tourists.

Cambodia is afternoon rain,
and evening thunder,
and hot airless nights.

Cambodia is a red, white and blue flag,
a gold palace,
green money,
red earth and black water.

Cambodia is a fleet of fishing boats in the dying light,
thud-thud-thudding their way down the Kampot river
to the sea.

Cambodia is a slum built on a creek full of rubbish,
that floods in the wet season,
sweeping away houses,
and sometimes children.

Cambodia is making do.

Cambodia is people moving to Phnom Penh for work,
renting a tiny room,
and sending their wages back home.

Cambodia is a cool breeze that breaks the heat
and brings neighbours to their front doors
to breathe and sigh and laugh.

Cambodia is the Mekong River,
wider than my dreams,
and as slow as real change.


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