Part Two

 

It dark in lorry and throughout the night-
time I know that big girls they laugh at me.
      But Mae-Ying say nothing, take dormitory bed
and be all day thereafter in the wet fields bending
cold over cabbage and ragged kale.
     Lights out at ten and no smoke or shower,
But Mae Ying she peasant and never forget.
Mae Ying are you happy? I am always so.

But Mae-Ying she know she wake in morning
with back that ache she hardly stand. She
      stand in the cropfields as the grey sky lightens
hurt to bend over and is still more hurting
as rain it enters and drenches clothes. In
       the wind she shiver and she hear the trees
ask if this is her country, the streams
and paddi that lift to the Pha Mieng Hills?

Well that's alright love, but if you want something
different and not killing then you let me know.
     Mr. Matthews the foreman I know he like me
who always am working and smiling to others.
Look it's no fun to be out in all weathers and if
     you are game for it the missus can help.
Before it all goes, love, so make it smartish:
you haven't got papers and inspectors will call.

So life change for Mae-Ying, but what is option?
Inward no laughing but she turn around,
       walk and be glamorous when Mrs. Matthews
say I am natural, but Mae-Ying want
only the money they do not give. Alright,
       alright, little madam, we will send the money
never to you though who must work and work,
you understand us now do you, to pay us back ?

30. Always they cheat you I remember. Hey
little Mae beautiful not so fast. Only
        if I liked them did I go on staying, and
what we agree on is what I take. Whatever
Mae-Ying is she be always honest, look what
        they do and not they say. Even old men
and monks they want her, this girl so pretty:
Mae-Ying see thoughts, she always know.

So she must work and work on tapes
and also go college two days a week.
         Mae-Ying she change name to Chirawan
have family in Bangkok now very rich.
She learn how to talk and hold spoon and fork,
         especially the knife as English do.
Be calm and reserved and expect prompt service
with a lift of the eyebrow and courteous smile.

But Chirawan is comfortable with her clothes
and do as they want if she sometimes sad.
       Old men are kind but they only take her
wheezing and trembling but also with present.
It is money she want though, an extra she tell
them, money for family a long way home.
       Work permit come she write in letter
but father he tell her always think passport,
remember they hold that and always will.

Chirawan I am of the high fashion dressing,
a slow way of moving and with softening eyes
      kind with waiters but insisting on service,
doors opened, seats booked, gracious becoming
Chirawan a woman who is very expensive
      that never at the first time will she sleep with men
but laugh and be mischievous and always knowing
for discretion they will pay and with respect.

This her possession and the faint sharp smell
she know as she wash and will always change.
        Her perfume of dressing after stretching herself
around what is feral and feminine centre:
a squat, obsequious, a spreading dampness
       of sphincter, the sweat of body, all
this is nothing but a passing as in the air
which the Lord Buddha say, or the Chao Phraya.

35. I sit in my chair and think of the river
glittering with darkness and many reflections.
       I think of the body and the outward attentions,
how brilliant are lives though they soon go out
like the windows in houses across the street.
       Mae-Ying have the body and the full attachments
have men to men reach in her impenetrable blackness,
a delirium of wanting that gives no rest.

Days pass, the months, I go come back
from Paris no passport but everything fine.
      Girls of agency smile at officials, look
impudent at men who try their passes, eat
at best places and are stuck up with waiters.
      Dressed like flamingoes we sit in foyers
we let men be stupid and insist they pay
for shopping and taxis: we only laugh.

Two years now and Mae Ying established
with passport and permit and new apartment.
       Sometimes she lonely in only meeting women
of Ace Escorts of whom Chirawan best.
She above all with her high-bred demeanour
       her impudent walking that make men notice
get her a drink which she always refuses,
waving them past with a mischievous laugh.

Sometimes she is sat in an hotel waiting
the waiters attentive and eyeing her up.
       she who is the mantis with long legs folded,
the blossom of evening caressing her skin
Sometime she sit there like the high Lord Buddha
       the candles amassing and smoky sealing
the long fall of hair in its shoulder length tangles,
and held-in, bewildering, her shadowy eyes.

Hers in the top piece that is hardly lifting
but breathes in the splendour of the amber skin.
        Hers in the sombre and insolence asking,
as the fingers reach backward into fluted nails:
an imprint on the arms as the winds in passing
        a foot-trail of birds over delicate membranes
a shiver that will hold them as at nightfall dreaming
they think of their soft parts and little genders.

40. I am a haze in the mind and still more mournful
are the lips in their glistening and crimson pout.
       Always they think of silk-straining attachments
of promises in breath as I sigh their name
and the body then faltering and in the fragrance
       of urgency opening to an exhausting tussle,
the legs moving, the buttocks, the clench of passion
in gasps that trail out to a little death.

I am Mae-Ying the enchanter the first one
the last one, Mae-Ying to others will never bow
        Why should she work with rough sun coarsening
and thickening hard body, making old the muscles
in stooping and labouring over furrowed rice?
        Childbirth on hard planks the blood then running
and rotting the clothes and in heavy labour which
an hour in the river can never wash out?

I think of those bodies, a thing of wonder
wound up in rags or a wrapped around breasts.
       I think of the men in their everyday working,
buffalo in field and the patchwork rivers
the winds in the fields of harvest and singing
       the rice as it blows against river willows:
Maybe I traitor, Mae-Ying is asking, not
now to come back to my village again?

A long time ago that and in the distance
a brilliance that burns through these northern lands.
       Immaculate in sportscar, Mae-Ying is touring
the soft wind in hair and laying it flat.
Continual are the seasons in this orderly country,
       its fragmentary contentments of quiet clouds:
the trees I pass must lean into evening,
the long sky is blue with my childhood days

Occlusions of content in many colours, a scatter
like paper the small churchyards and market
      and garage, and fish-shop and tourist mill:
cottages with gardens and lives that are intricate
and no doubt much careful and self-denying
      are not for the resplendently groomed and now
imperturbable woman called Chirawan
who smiles and drops casually into best hotels.

45. What of the clients, but have learned not to care
but take off clothes slowly as voices tremble.
       Afterwards I wash and my prodigal figure
glistens as I slip on a further attire of feature,
my private dimension in other clothes.
      Mae-Ying of Chakraphong are you truly happy?
In my letter to father I am always am happy.
Then why you no visit? I almost cry.

Must take plane and taxi and two days later
am sitting with Sompong in old time hut
      disordered, bad smelling and bending to river.
Father disagreeable and call me changed.
Grown up he tell me and now am different.
       The little girl laughing has farang ways.
No, no, I tell him, for underneath still
her heart and the body are same as his.

No, Mae-Ying you have something only
of officious bustle that have city folk.
      Even head abbot no give you lecture but
ever be bowing with his offering bowl.
He want donation as all want donation. We
      also need money, and little Mae-Ying
be compassionate and help us. The hard path of life
has stumbles and needs of which we do not ask.

So Mae-Ying pay and that is purpose,
my destiny say abbot when take back bowl.
      Mae-Ying respectful but must make her money
for all that she does which is still a defiance
and not a true footprint on enlightened path.
       Maybe it true she disclose herself also
why she is pretty and always laughing at
those who must work in shop or factory.

But no for ever she do that or cleaning
and cooking and housework. Mae-Ying want
        something to hold her when Sompong go.
Maybe it wicked what she give to others,
maybe in wind of forest and whispering rivers
       the sound of bamboo with its dried-up leaves
tell her that and the harsh breath sighing
in this dancer of small days will let her go.

50. So it hurt her now that helping Sompong,
to dress her with clothes from spread-out bushes
      she see her sister so smiling and trying
to unbend the leg folded which is short and twisted.
Trying forever though she will not cry. Where
       do the days go and why does it seem
the wind is from somewhere, another country
speaking to the small place that is the heart?

 

Now rewritten and published as a free ebook by Ocaso Press.

 

part one     part two    part three    part four