Megaphones by Joseph Davidson-Duddles

‘When you dig up the grass, you must remove even the roots.’

 

A monotone picture shows a smiling face

carved into the rock, its cheeks smooth

and eyes closed;

 

a boy laughs between the strands of grass,

men grab his mother’s hair –

the green field is muddied and torn.

 

In Phnom Penh the water in the street

washes away their whispers –

an old woman pretends to be blind.

 

A man compresses his lips and

does not sing: the megaphone rains

down on his timbered back,

 

his skin like bark yet moving,

coughing into a grudging hum.

A banyan tree crouches.

 

Its roots run through the ground,

bulging through the road

like a bicep’s hard arteries.

 

And on the ground, pebbles turn over

to reveal stony grains

scarring their rounded sides.

 

In the city the wind splutters petroleum,

papers lay scattered on the tarmac,

cars are upturned – a lone figure

holds up a slogan on cardboard.