En route to Vientiane, Laos

En route to Vientiane, Laos

Leaving Bangkok the train journeys into
The dark hours heading northeast,
Passing through central Thai provinces
Where the pulse of home and street
Lights blink and fade,
Some stay awake. From my sleeper’s window
I gather whatever remains visible
To the eye through the glass,
Vast universe of darkness:
A cathedral of sky pale
In moonlight sheen, sudden silhouettes
Of hills and mountains coming on past
Some curve tracks in the way of philosophic
Turns at every sea-change, unexpected
And forbidding; intermittent shift
Of light and shadow in serial molding
Of mindscapes crossing over
The terror of beauty and death.

When morning light comes,
We stamp our arrival in the plenitude
Of new stirrings. The fields of Nhong Kai
Awash in intense green, and we inhale
Rarified air through the light silver
Drizzle, the flurry of longings
And intentions brisk in the shuffle
Of feet and conveyances.

With my heavy backpack I emerge
From the train station
Occupied with further moves,
The longer tracks to cover,
The hunger that will take me
Farther and farther, forever
At the point of desperate flights.

13 March 2003
Phnom Penh, Cambodia

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