The theme for this week’s JVG Radio Method poem is “Little Women“.
Not a poem today rather a reflection on Jon’s theme from my travel notebook, well the ones that survived.
Jon and I had a rather good chat about travel and how it broadens your outlook…
To play this poem directly in your browser – just click the “play” button below:
Even at close range, it is easy to mistake her for a child.
Short and slight, dressed in loose cotton pants and shirt, squatting beside a small well, cup in one hand, a piece of frayed rope to fend off insects in the other, head buried beneath a Non La, a Vietnamese conical hat.
Rising, she balances a length of bamboo across her shoulders, watering cans bound to each end, nimbly navigating the narrow paths between rows of vegetables, shuffling again and again to the well, careful not to scoop up the two tiny fish tasked with keeping the water free of mosquito larvae.
Though small, she is far from a child.
Lined and furrowed, her face resembles a walnut shell, frozen in what could almost be a smile, etched by a lifetime straining under the weight of buckets of water.
All expression relies on her clear, glistening eyes, and they dance like fireflies on a moonless night.
Ask her age and she laughs
Years mean nothing to her
Even seasons are fickle
Life is measured in crops. Two, possibly even three in a good year, one if you’re lucky, in a bad.
A Water Buffalo can be trained in two crops. Is that two years or a few months?
Years mean nothing.
This modest field has been her life.
She sleeps, as always, on a bamboo mat in a hut beside the well, serenaded by the cockerel and the frog.
When the war that claimed her husband and a son turned this plain into a battlefield, she took refuge down the banks of the river, returning within hours to begin again.
Weather does not bow to war or politics
The rains do not wait for calm
The wind does not hold its breath
The seed does not hide within its husk
Hunger kills as surely as any bullet.
Impassively, she recalls the first crop after the battle.
Small patches of vibrant, green shoots towered above the neighbouring seedlings, enriched by the blood soaked soil, like headstones in a graveyard.
Death, life, anguish, beauty, cacophony, silence.
There is no time to waste seeking reason
Now a new invader threatens, as housing encroaches ever closer.
She knows it will claim her land one day soon, though by then she will have joined her ancestors.
Perhaps ten crops, perhaps twenty.
Years mean nothing.
© Copyright 2016 Ian Bland
Also have a listen to the songs on “Angel In Reverse”