Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, ONE AT PLAY IN THE FIELDS OF, by KAREN SWENSON



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ONE AT PLAY IN THE FIELDS OF, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: One came home from forced labor to
Last Line: The fields of where we all are one.
Subject(s): Cambodia; Death; Graves; War; Dead, The; Tombs; Tombstones


One came home from forced labor to
collapsed bamboo, leaf rubble of
his village, followed in grief a thread
of happy memory to the field
where, with rice baskets full beneath
silken slaps of Buddhist pennants,
the village picnicked. One found a stench,
putrescent stews of naked women
with their babes in open pits. Now
this one's concierge of the bone tower.

Like Genghis Khan's or Tamerlane's
skull towers on the wind-raw plains
of Asia, but cooped up in glass,
this is a library of shelved
brainboxes which look out blind to
all compass points for others of their
own kind. I photograph girls labeled
prepubescent, but am tugged to
the next shelf, labeled "Europeans,"
as one nods condolences.

But eyeless, lipless, brought down to bone,
I cannot mourn mine separately
since we are every one the dead
as we are every one the killers.
The longan tree, rummaging
for bloom and fruit in blood-brewed earth
beneath the pits, one day will shade
picnics, banners, children scratching
games in this dust, at play in
the fields of where we all are one.





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