Meditation in Sisophon
A fitful garden flanking the driveway;
Without the car, through the wood-slatted gate,
A shack of a barbershop is visible
From across the road. I had my hair
Cut there in April, the barber aiming to swap talk
Lunged into Vietnamese since he couldn’t do
English and my Khmer is atrocious. Even so, in our
Incomprehension we both knew
Something was shared and understood.
This is a beautiful Sunday morning
I am managing myself.
I set about the chore of cooking rice,
And fry fish thawed from the cold.
Through the hiss of fizzling oil,
I’m making out the meditations of the book,
The Simpsons and Philosophy, like the prognosis
Of Homer as a cartoon man lacking
Aristotle’s phronesis, “ one intellectual virtue
Necessary for an ethical character, namely,
That of practical wisdom… the ability
To steer one’s way through the world
Intelligently, morally, and in a goal-oriented way.”
I feel an undercurrent of recognition.
I stand in the kitchen door with the book
In hand, the fish in inferno, and I take in
The bright stirrings of the morning:
The trees gently swaying through the breeze,
A lump of cumulus cloud creeping northwest
Through an intense blue space.
In a couple of days as I cross over
The Thailand border of Aranyaprathet,
I shall continue to see how elegant
The sun falls on the surface of things
Like leaves and stones, our dreams and hopes,
And believe something not seen
Would turn up for a rightful reckoning.
18 May 2003
Banteay Meanchey, Cambodia