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Cambodia Trip 2006
At the Killing Fields

by Emily Zenker (2006) 

At the Killing Fields



Human bones lie in concrete urns

With a thousand skulls inside a glass tower

I see bones everywhere as I walk the Killing Fields

They poke up like pale, writhing roots,

Working their way out

From under their prison of earth


The ones that have escaped

Are piled in white and dusty mounds

In the shade of the green chankiri trees

Shreds of cotton cloth

Still wrap around these tortured tibias

Fading and red

Like the now-dried blood of innocents


Here is the place where they beat the children

There is the place where they hung the women

Where is the place where they dropped the heads

Of old men killed with farming tools?


Rain is coming

Sarith says rain is coming, but

It will not wash away these sun-bleached relics

It will only stir the soil

Until more bones come up, to be piled into other mounds

On the path beside rows of burial pits


Rain is coming

It’s coming, but

It cannot wash away ‘Rith’s ache

For his grandfather

Or his aunts and uncles

It can only rise up into his eyes

And spill out on his face

Like the rain inside mine right now


I was so young yesterday


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