Tribute to Nhiem Chun (11/19/11). (style one: free verse)


“But when I am gone, these stones will still be here. These temples are the symbols of our soul. We will not survive if we don’t look after our temples.”
Gray-green moss coats the
Stones like paint, speckling
The surface in spots and layers.
Roots and vines weave in and out
Of crevasses, poking their slow,
Lazy fingers through doors
And the mouths of Gods.
Tourists flow like ants
Through corridors and chambers,
Moving like a single entity
Up and over stone walls
And nimbly over roots that seep
Down from above. Piles of
Fallen, carved blocks lie
In heaps everywhere:
The collapsed ceiling of a
Tunnel, the pillars in a walled
Chamber. Sunlight streams
And trickles through the cracks
Above our heads, dust and particles
Dance in each individual ray,
And an overwhelming number
Of butterflies exercise their
Wings on alters and lingas.
Bent double, a ghostly figure
Wanders the passageways,
Broom in hand, at constant
Odds with the flow of nature.
You see him appear and disappear,
Always following the falling leaf,
A legend of Ta Prohm.
“If I don’t sweep, the leaves will cover the temple. I must sweep.”

Nhiem Chun (1922-2009)


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