The temples and their people (style 2: sestina)


The scarred, carved stone walls crumble
Before my eyes, much like the tears
That run down the faces of the people. How
Have they survived under this beating sun
The harsh and cruel world of death?
Strength, of both the people and the temples

Courses through the veins of the earth, where the temples
Stand and the men and women work away at the crumbling
Earth with hoe and scythe, fighting death
With rice and water beneath the scorching sun,
Each day a testament to their will to live. How

Is it that the Khmer Rouge killed so many? How
Is it that these ancient temples
Stand under the watchful eye of the sun?
This country has survived the crumbling
Of its very heart, the tears
Of its people filling the fields of death.

S-21 and its ghosts of torture and death
Was unknown for far too long, how
Did those men ignore the tears
So many shed that filled each temple
To the brim? The children watched their parents crumble
Under the heavy hammer of the Khmer Rouge sun.

And yet as I walk these corridors of Angkor, the sun
Beating upon my back, for a moment I am immune to the death
Around me, until I see a hungry child and my heart crumbles
For what that child must endure and how
These men and women managed to survive. These temples
Stand for them. For their strength, power, loss and tears.

Flowing from my soul, my tears
Are quickly dried from the heat of the noonday sun
As I wander the mossy temples
And think about Loung Ung and the death
Of her mother, father, and sister. And how
She never allowed her spirit to crumble.

An entire generation is absent from this country, where temples crumble
Beneath the sun. But its people greet me with smiles and are proud and full of love. How
Would you, or I, have stood to the horrors they faced, the loss, the hunger, and the death?

7. (envoi) ECA or ACE

A- crumble
B- tears
C- how
D- sun
E- death
F- temple


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