‘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.