Just the unfolding of light

In Phnom Penh, I watch as the sun dissolves into the mighty Mekong, a river that has already journeyed several thousand kilometres and still has more to navigate before it can find the sea. I too have come from some distance. I too have places to go. For one golden evening we contrive a confluence. In the disquiet of liquid light, we will just flow together, just here, just for a little while.

at a stop light
I consider, again,
the moon frozen in my mirror

In the pale dispassion of dawn, what strikes you is not the idea, the being, the craft, the industry, the scale of Angkor Wat, but the expansive stillness. The anti-movement. The not-seeing. The not-knowing. The not-understanding. Which came first, fear or faith? Which came first, grandeur or pride? Which came first, love or incessant yearning?

neither question
nor answer
just the unfolding of light

First, the jungle. Then they clear the jungle. Then they build the temple. Then the jungle reclaims the temple. Then they try to wrest the temple out of the jungle’s grasp. Then the jungle will prevail. I wonder if this is a lesson about impermanence, about power, about retribution or about inexorable truth. I feel the silence of trees older than the sky wrap its fingers, tight, around my soul.

ever after —
another night, another bedtime story

The walls of Angkor Wat tell the story of the churning of the ocean of milk by gods and demons, both looking for the ultimate elixir. The story of good over evil. Heaven over hell. We like life to work like that. We want life to work like that. We think we are like that. We think our demons have lost to our gods. We think, inside us, the ocean will give us what we seek. We think the ocean has to give us what we seek.

whose fault is it —
the paper boat
that waited for the rain

Cambodia Travelogue… Phnom Penh/ Siem Reap

26 thoughts on “Just the unfolding of light

    1. Thanks so much, Dave. That’s very kind. I really appreciate your work in compiling the digest every week. Means a lot. Am enjoying putting together the travelogues, I’ve been meaning to do this for a long time, but it’s falling into place now. So glad you like them.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I liked your journey journal. It reminded me of the times I would ride along the Rio Grande on my Vespa motorscooter. I’d leave on the Mexico side from El Paso, TX/Jurez, Mexico and return downstream many miles east and return on the U.S. side, sometime along the levy trails. At Christmas time I’d often cut some mistletoe from trees along the U.S. roads.
    “Expansive stillness” is something to behold. I’d ride out into the deserts north of El Paso and seem to be the only person on earth, having nothing of civilization in sight to remind me elsewise.


    1. To drive alone for miles through desert country would be healing, uplifting. I’ve been in a few sand deserts…will write more about them sometime. Love hearing your travel stories, Jim. Thank you!


  2. This is so brilliant! I can totally experience the beauty through your words. Then again, when you mentioned the killing fields in your comment, that brought a chill to my spine too.


  3. The stoplight haiku is stunning. I am in awe of the imagery you have created with a handful of words.


  4. A beautiful philosophical piece of writing My favourite line
    “the silence of trees older than the sky wrap their fingers, tight, around my soul.” Trees are like that 🙂


    1. My travels to Phnom Penh were so boringly shallow, compared to this beautiful story that you weave so well 🙂

      Apple and the worm, starsong and clouds embracing moon… exquisite imagery wrapped up and presented as poetry !


    1. Thank you. Siem Reap is fabulous – history, architecture and craft. But when you visit the killing fields in Phnom Penh – just so hard to take in and impossible to make sense of. Didn’t write about it here…maybe another time.


    1. Thanks so much, Khaya. Thanks for that link.. will explore it! I’ve tried to recount travel experiences in my last three posts on the blog…still experimental – though I think this is the form that works best for what I want to say- the impressions, the thoughts, the things that one brings back, unplanned and unknowing. I do hope to write more… good to get travel+poetry enthusiasts together!

      Liked by 1 person

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