Friday, 9 April 2010

Retrospective 4: in Kampot at the riverhouse with friends

Ah, Lord,
here I am.
Slowly clumsily surfacing--
my head aching
and my limbs heavy
from that drugged afternoon sleep,
here in the still hot sun of four o'clock,
in the soft shurr of a broom sweeping,
listening to the wind in the dry palms,
watching shadows shift,
feeling the world's glory.

My obsession with newness,
my boredom, my desire to hunt,
to know, to number, to accumulate,
these things threaten
the pleasure of my birding--
I don't do well with sameness,
with ordinariness--Katie's book recommendation,
the spectacular ordinary life--
the very title makes me nervous.
But surely it isn't all bad,
wanting to know,
to see as deeply as possible
the world around me--
what is the red winged hawk
that hunts over the Frenchman's spring?
What is the red capped brown ball of feathers
that vanishes into the reeds of our farm's pond
whenever I steal up close?

My thanks for a morning--
for flooded fields of water still as glass,
for tiny fish swimming over the hoof prints of cows,
for small bays cut into the thick stiletto palms
crowding the river's edge, covered with crab tracks,
for the yellow flowers with red hearts
that float along the meniscus of the brackish riverworld,
for grave mounds covered with thin strips of white cloth,
for rollers high and bright and fearless in the trees,
for wind in the papery sighing of the sugar palms,
for small bridges and boats that pass beneath them,
for all the many knit muscles of our arms,
that we can push an oar through the water, and row along--
for the possible treepie, and the innumerable brown bulbuls,
swooping from one bush to the next,
for a mighty fig tree towering above the forest,
for generous friends with quiet hearts--
and for last night's walk in the moonlight
along a river under the moon,
watching mountains against a starry sky--
for all these things,
my thanks, my praise,
my devotion.

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