Chang Rai - Poem by Alexandra Reiss
Creases brown and dirty, like a map-
creases caked with dirt, silt in tiny rivers.
Sweat compelled the dust on my palms
to form this geography.
Too aware of my feet: skewed awkwardly
– away – from his holiness.
Do not let him see your heels,
the greatest offence. Soles
Brine salt sweat burns our
rubbed raw knees; red hot
like his incense. Shuffling against
ancient carpet, I cannot
wait any longer.
Bowed head, I offer
In his life he has seen
many farmers’ hands; each one blessed
by a piece of string.
I will not think of the hike back. I will
draw backwards on my knees, so careful
of my feet. Vaguely aware of my shins
bleeding and attracting insects.
In the doorway, I stop to finger the string tied
round my wrist. It is red.
I believe I am
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