Indochina Days by VALERIE VOLK

Interested in a few weeks of vicarious travel? On a recent tour of Vietnam and Cambodia, I wrote my usual 'poem a day', trying to capture some distinctive sight/person/event that would make each day live in my memory. This  small book is a record of those poems, and will take you from Hanoi, where we started, through our travels to Siem Riep, with all the varied experiences, from Vietnamese traffic and the cooking classes I attended, to the horrors of Pol Pot and the Killing Fields, through the leisurely river trip up the Mekong with its small fishing villages and craft centres, and finally to the splendours of Angkor Wat and the enduring power of its temples. Join me in my journey …



Indochina Days Poetry


From Before departure

To cherish every moment,
to recognize the value of each day –
this lends our lives significance.

So every day a poem ...
o celebrate arrival at this point
before we reach the final destination
and know the journey’s end.


From The Water Puppets

We watch the puppets in the muddy water,
see worlds of thrashing dragons,
warring lions,  fighting boats,
rice planter on his buffalo,
his flute entrancing local maidens.


From At the Fishing Village

Our bamboo rowboat berths.
The coolie hatted girl now rests her oars
(surely too slight a figure for this load)
while heavy-footed tourists
are helped across the swelling waves
to where the fishing village floats
on its support of bright blue drums.


From The Cu Chi Tunnels

We marvel as we crawl through tunnels,
watch a green-clad soldier slide effortlessly
into narrow entrances so camouflaged
that one would never find them. 


From Along the Mekong 

A blur of life and colour, fleeting images,
along, across, the muddy water of this mighty river.
Our boat steams on, while little fishing villages
appear on banks and then are left behind. 


From  At the Killing Fields 

You gaze out from the wall at us,
your eyes wide, pleading,
your baby clutched close to you. 


From At Angkor Wat 

We wait the sunrise,
see just the silhouette
of ancient buildings
sharpen as the thin grey light
begins to dissipate the darkness.
Then comes the first faint flush of dawn.


From Afterwards

As always, a vast jigsaw puzzle: people,
places and events. Some day we may create
a total picture from the pieces,
and comprehend what we have seen.
May understand what we have learned.