I wade through solitude
to the cottage where we used to
gather to drink rice wine,
enjoying false peace.
I sit under the same palm-leaf roof,
gaze at your chairs
but see no one,
hear only your laughs.
Here, it's like everywhere else—
villages of black roofless houses;
I don't see even one dog.
The explosions of mines,
the roaring of heavy artillery
from frontier to frontier, shake every
grain of pollen from the champa flowers.
No places to hide, no skies under which to rest;
and the moaning of children
and the cries of mothers
out of blazing fire across the land,
And your bodies, brothers, shielding us
from the bullets, and your blood
splashing over our Mother, induce my soul
to ever worship jasmine and lotus blossoms.
U Sam Oeur (born 1936) Cambodia
Translated by Ken McCullough and the author
Source: Project Muse