Sovanna Baitong

Sovanna Baitong

Brimful of water, the tank placed high
On wooden posts unlooses its load.
Water whooshing down on the blades
Of grass and shrubs- clear silver gleaming
In the four o’clock afternoon sun
Against leaves of fruit trees.

There’s the hum of cicadas hanging in the air,
A tantalizing drone of an impending rapture;
Farmers on the field plough and hoe the soil
For new rows of crops, the weather this time
Predictably favorable, wedged between
Extremes of rain and heat.

Later as fruits quietly bud in the glow of dark,
Chickens and birds roost on the branches,
The villagers, after a meal of simple dish-
Could be raw vegetables and prahoc
Will turn into fitful sleep, their bodies
Will be drained of harshness, their songs
Configuring harmony to leap into a new day
Like the fish in the lake of Baeng Meas.

*prahoc –is a popular Cambodian fish paste


Independence Monument, Phnom Penh

A Toast for Men Yun-Ch’ing
By Tu Fu (712–770)
Translated By Florence Ayscough and Amy Lowell

Illimitable happiness,
But grief for our white heads.
We love the long watches of the night, the red candle.
It would be difficult to have too much of meeting,
Let us not be in hurry to talk of separation.
But because the Heaven River will sink,
We had better empty the wine-cups.
To-morrow, at bright dawn, the world’s business will entangle us.
We brush away our tears,
We go—East and West.

Source: Poetry Foundation