Bio Note: I served as Wisconsin's Poet Laureate several years ago, and keep trying to remind myself that these— while certainly not the best of times— may not the worst of times, either. I wrote the following poem following a visit to Viet Nam and Cambodia about fifteen years after that disastrous war ended. Its tragic consequences were clearly still in evidence at that time, and remain so today. May the world continue to heal.
The Blue Water Buffalo
PHNOM PENH, Jan. 28 2020— Cambodia recorded 77 landmine and unexploded ordnance (UXO) casualties in 2019, up 33 percent compared with 58 in the year before. —Xinhua News Agency On both sides of the screaming highway, the world is made of emerald silk—sumptuous bolts of it, stitched by threads of water into cushions that shimmer and float on the Mekong's munificent glut. In between them plods the ancient buffalo—dark blue in the steamy distance, and legless where the surface of the ditch dissects the body from its waterlogged supports below or it might be a woman, up to her thighs in the lukewarm ooze, bending at the waist with the plain grace of habit, delving for weeds in water that receives her wrist and forearm as she feels for the alien stalk, the foreign blade beneath that greenest of green coverlets where brittle pods in their corroding skins now shift, waiting to salt the fields with horror.
©2022 Marilyn Taylor
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