Angkor

By CLIFF FORSHAW

All day those stones have writhed with myth,
roots have snaked necks, have had the cheek
to prod gods and kings, crack armies, cities, ships;
mocked Shiva, made him sprout arthritic wrists.

Guides have strung us along all day
through arches, dynasties, over long-fallen walls;
bottlenecks where we’ve knotted up to squint,
crouched, leaned back to squeeze the backdrop in.

All day the sun has punished us,
banished cyclopeans to pan from corners.
We’ve snapped ourselves where Lara fell to Earth
or Elstree; our minds have crashed right through that set.

In time for sunset, at last we start
to climb the path up to the highest temple.
Where breezes freshen still golden air, we slake
our thirst, rummage in backpacks, stretch, slump, smoke.

Each evening I guess it’s the same communion:
new faces who have read the rough scripture,
heard the whisper of blessings these vespers bring;
now cameras aim where the Wat is dipped in gold.

Crowded on a temple’s stump,
gregarious Stylites watch the sun burn out.
It’s closing time in the gardens of the West.
Down there the East’s already thick with dusk.

Precipitously we’re all benighted.
The way back down’s unlit, the temple steps
have blackened, steepened under flip-flops, boots;
feet feel for slippery ledges as we tumble

through hubbub, gravity, the jostling dark
now all around. In the tuk-tuk going back,
ignore the hawkers, look up to catch all those other
lonelier planets now yawing into view.

 

Cliff Forshaw lives in Hull, England, where he teaches at the university. Recent UK publications include Trans and three chapbooks: A Ned Kelly Hymnal, Wake, and Tiger.

Click here to purchase Issue 01

Angkor

Related Posts

Mesquite plant

July 2021 Poetry Feature: Burlin Barr

BURLIN BARR
but the wolf tree was there and there was a place where // trophies hung: entire / bodies slung there in semi permanence // turning into everything / imaginable between a fresh body and shit and a variety // of trash; except Otis; he kept his right in front / of the house even

Recife, Brazil

Translation: Poems by Lara Solórzano Damasceno

LARA SOLÓRZANO DAMASCENO
Nosotras, who for millennia have steered warships, / sailing through seas made invisible. / Nosotras, who walked barefoot through valleys of stinging nettle, had our name ripped from the book of history / our biography from the scientific treatises

Ice fishing

June 2021 Poetry Feature

CORRIE WILLIAMSON
You lamented the absence of a human sound for longing, / like the loon has, like the wolf. I think of you reading / to your donkey the day he died, the passage where Odysseus / kisses the soil, how the beast moved away from you, / stood quietly in the clover, then returned...