We talked about brochures
for the elite catering school –
the number of permissible fonts,
what the Cambodians like
what Westerners don’t.
The curious blurred line in
a master-slave relationship,
the curious intersections
and tribal nepotisme,
how to be a player,
her player perhaps,
faire savoir versus
guide book had no advice…
Theories of the post-
colonial, politics, blogs,
all too abstract now
once I’d seen
the afterlife glow
of the exhaust pipe blister
on her perfect calf
and watched entranced
application of Elizabeth Arden,
of her eyebrows.
Only two weeks in the country,
the way she accelerated
and disappeared down the track
and from behind
looked just like a local,
heading for a creperie
on Sivatha Boulevard.
Maybe, in six months,
she might eat anything, even spiders,
go crazy like Gauguin,
learn to paint in the dark.
She’ll do fine, I thought,
living on her wits. Just fine.
(AA April 20 2008)
Louis De Carne’s Diary
Stunned by the noise of the waters we reached Khemarat
where M. Delaporte awaited us.
Nothing could express the horror
of the petty mandarins, the imbecile governor,
and the yellow waters twisting through a narrow pass,
a child of seven smoking a cheroot,
or the site of a prisoner impaled by the tusks
of an elephant.
The light a deadly shade, the forest a blacker hue of green,
the boat shaped serpent-like, whirlpools we could not see.
The river all tributary – no one knew or cared
for the source or predominant
direction of its flow, a river unfit
for commercial intercourse.
Man had fled its banks, an abyss on both sides.
I was hot, too hot after my ramble
through an expanse of fetid mud.
I wondered what economic utility
Parisians might find in a lake full of fish
(how to get them to Paris?)
But I could write all night in my tent
cobwebbed in ennui and
sucking on the leg bone of an iguana,
or recline under the implacable serenity of the heavens,
the all powerful constraints
of influences so fatal to human personality,
that thought dies away by degrees
like a flame in a vacuum.
At least I knew there were guards
(of vagabond stock, with the timid air of the aborigine)
whom I barely trusted
posted around the perimeter.
(AA March 08)
Poem: A Map of Cambodia