Monday, April 13, 2015

The Road to Siem Reap

Listening to Vaughan Williams as I am borne along 
a Cambodian highway
the red dust billowing at our passing
I hear the cool, silver tones
of choristers in the echoing chill of
vaulted stone and know
as never before
the music rooted in the land
of its gestation.  A white ox
wanders over dusty grass
as the road beneath our wheels
Turns to dry, rutted mud
and the red cloud envelops
two small determined girls
emerging from a school
as crisply clad as if they too 
could sing qui tollis peccata
with the boys whose voices sound
a million lives away.

C.M.M. 03/15

I actually wrote this on a bus - an air-conditioned coach - on a six-hour journey over roads of varying degrees of completion through Cambodia. I scribbled it on the back of a daily bulletin in handwriting that I could barely decipher and transcribed it onto my phone notes when we stopped. I was listening at the time to Vaughan Williams' Mass in G minor, consumed by the strangeness of the contrast between what I heard and what I was seeing.

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