Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THREE SILENCES IN THAILAND, by KAREN SWENSON

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THREE SILENCES IN THAILAND, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Beside the mekong's silt-thick flow
Last Line: I bear no offering but the abstinence of silence.
Subject(s): Culture Conflict; Silence; Thailand

Beside the Mekong's silt-thick flow,
trees studded with flat-leaved epiphytes,
as a woman might weave flowers in her hair,
stretch the languor of their branches
from riverbank to dirt road
but are soundless in my foreign mouth
which has no name to call them.

In the bus station, she and I smile and wait;
she points to my hair, unpins her own,
spilling its crow-gloss over her breasts.
Among the shouts of children and blasts of exhaust
I twine her a braid of tactile night.

Confined in the pillar of shadow made by his walls,
right palm open, a lotus in his lap,
Wat Si Chum's Buddha smiles from his height.
Lips tranquil as wings at dusk
hover benedictions in the air above.
Knowing only the words for a Christ in pain,
I bear no offering but the abstinence of silence.

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