22 October, 2015

This is not my village

This is not my village

As I come
To tread your dust
Walking as though fixated
Returning as though a hero
On my pilgrimage of peace
Memories and anguish
I tell them in my mind
This is yours
Left hardly better than before
I have no sense of place
This is not my village

Just because it all looks familiar
Just because the children
All run into the street

Group themselves for photographs
Give me their address
Let it be yours
Let me give it back
With my shattered conscience
This is not my village

These are not my people
Lost in dust
Just because this old man
Can talk my language
A little ......and yes
He remembers Kevin
From Sydney not known to me
And next month
Those who came after
Will return - perhaps to gloat
Slap one another
On the back

This is not my village

For up this dusty track
Young women came
To feed on wasted semen
And be forgotten
Now all the beer bottles
Mamasans and bars
Are gone
This place is where it was
Before- long ago I came
This could never be my village

This is not my village
This is not where my
Placenta is buried
Not where the spirits
Of my ancestors dwell
The right to own this land
Was never granted me
I should neither bring
Nor take
Soldiers are tourists with guns
Tourists are invaders with cameras
This is not my village

This could never be mine
These are not my people
Though I am their brother
Nothing could give me the right
To remove them
To another place
To extinguish their houses
From the face of the earth
To set them wandering

In search of roots that cannot be
A new village cannot be their village
New land has no ancestors
This is not my village

Dedicated to the villagers of Ban Kok Talat where the airstrip was built, ten kilometres from Leong Nok Tha, revisited in January, 1993.   This poem has been published in several literary journals.