Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE GHOST, by KAREN SWENSON

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

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THE GHOST, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Woodsmoke guides us through the mist
Last Line: Wept as though he'd met his future's ghost.
Subject(s): Culture Conflict; Thailand; Tourists

Woodsmoke guides us through the mist,
trailing fragrance to
the village. Backpacks full of conveniences
Western as our beliefs, we're dead set on
finding these people happy
without socks or faucets.

We wear our watches, digital signs
of contamination
by the luminous hands of time.
Like Typhoid Marys we carry progress to
this quietude hoping
here infants have no gene for greed.

Women turn their smiles, shield
children from our cameras
leaving nothing to record but things.
Pictures of palm-frond roofs will slide on our walls
while serious chestnut eyes
must slowly fade on memory's transparency.

My pictures flash upon my wall, bamboo weaves across
my plaster, conjuring up one little Lizu boy
who, transfixed by my repetitive pallor -
pale skin, pale hair, pale eyes -
wept as though he'd met his future's ghost.

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