Part Three

 

Who is Mae-Ying to have these reflections,
Mae-Ying the foreigner who cannot stay?
      Sompong is crying and waving and Mae-Ying
she cry too all the way back to collecting
the sports car and drive round respectable streets
      a stillness there spotting and autumn leaves turning,
the tarmac, the houses with their tended gardens,
the drives well-swept with their ordered lives.

Mae-Ying could move but she know the city
is noisy impersonal and here is closer
      to the winds off the wheat-fields and tousled elms
the kale and the rapeseed, the hard yellow shining,
the furze-covered hills and forest plantations,
      the small towns opening with their filling station
bus stop and Safeway and their ordinary lives
no hoping for heaven but doing their best.

Sometimes I look down on what this body
is by the mirror with nothing on. I see
      the supple and soft, almost honey complexion,
the breasts that are warm and yet part of me.
How flawless the eyebrows with their balance over
      eyes that are dewdrop and seem distilling
the exotic of longing and of distant collusions
in immeasurable blackness I can't unlock.

Why, my Lord Buddha why have you made me
this handful of smoke in a moving dream?
       Same my apartment in the latest fashion,
this bed with its linens where I only sleep. Girls
from the agency they look astonished, see
       round, so beautiful, ordered, neat.
How do you manage it, and where is the boyfriend?
Nowhere. I never bring clients here.

55. No one at all not even student, someone
to wait for you, cook for you, clean the place,
       afterwards in smiling turn down sheets?
I want men to like me but have them pay
with things that I need, and not their tantrums,
       the silly possessiveness, empty words.
Mae-Ying is honest and she give her body
only for the night-time if daytime free.

We'll find you a husband who is rich enough
to know what the world is and never afraid
       of what others can say or what is past.
If we find will you try it? It may be difficult
with large house and family and former wife.
       If I have freedom, my own life and all
my family and girlfriends, can lie in bed
or get up and go driving all day and more.

You have to. The best is not forever:
five years or ten and the bloom is gone.
          Men they want change, are ever restless
as creatures wanting a new one like little boys.
So there were suppers and evenings in houses,
          Mae-Ying the gracious with her sultry airs
as Chirawan is smiling and bowing and out of her mind
with paintings, tapestries the past wife's garden.
           She is lost in the luxury of the heavy sheets and
fearful in restaurants she will meet the past.

Long months I take to find this Bernard Flowers
businessman he tell me and dine me over
           the county in restaurants and in big hotels.
The house we can change, just as you want
but I tell him it OK, it is fine by me.
           What should Mae-Ying the peasant and worker
in the rice paddi wetness and the far plantations
want with the kitchens, greenhouse, the boating lake?

Her face framed by windows that are Jacobean
he tell me at tea-time with the silver tongs
           threadbare the carpets, aching the galleries
where Chirawan is light with her leather on wood.
Softly she sink into the vast upholstery, the
           large flowered sofas that were his wife's.
Mae-Ying, you think now: is this you want,
an old man more attentive than father is?

60. How distant again is that small wood-stilt village
of four pagodas that is Baen Pang Mai Daen!
         Chirawan transported to an ancient country,
there the rich woman and soon gracious wife.
Everyone courteous to the exotic mistress, hers
         the imperturbable and unmoving fullness
of a body that hovers as the mist fills air:
cool and irreproachable in her couture clothes.

How slowly she will turn to this small boy Richard,
this son that by another she must entertain
         as mistress of manor with its great dark cedars,
mill-boards plashing and peacocks screeching: endless
the galleries, the windows, the warm-panelled rooms,
         the light falling dimly into heaps of clothes:
here she will rule and will decorously smile at . . .
just for a week, love, he is much your age.

Mae-Ying, Mae-Ying why must you linger
distant and astonished and in hidden fury?
         Such the consternation in those quiet features,
almost of horror in those clear blue eyes.
Well, lad: don't just stand stand there gawking,
         show some manners. Well, that's how he is.
The housekeeper will cook or you can take him out.
No, lass. Just look after my son, that's all I ask.

Terrible the pain we both take breakfast. Nothing
to say as we walk through the garden, nothing
        to answer where we eat or go. Mae-Ying
the sorcerer, the expensive mistress, Mae-Ying
the magician must not to lose her head:
        But all that day awful, she so nervous, say
nothing and everything and crash the gears:
Mae-Ying is exhausted at day's end and dying.

So, will you marry my father? He hasn't asked.
But you like him, I mean, in his sodding ways.
        I ask you Richard to remember position
the kindness I owe him and not speak badly.
Do you? Well, lucky old bastard, he and his money.
        God knows he has used it to good account.
Everyone does that and we all need money.
I as his mistress and you can't change that.

65. Yes, but needn't be. I could give you money,
help you to live and be a girl again. Inside
        and out you could follow your instincts,
make up your story as you go along. Richard
be man and make your own life's journey,
        women you will win but not this one.
You I must have so forever to hold you,
a life that is lost under unfathomable breath.

How angry the mistress, the exotic temptress,
she turn away quickly and cannot smile.
       Where is the courtesy, the good school manners,
what is this Chirawan that you can ask her so?
Because he has money, we all have money.
       How could you do that with your small book business
with bank loans and credits as your father says?
The world is a hard place and you must not dream.

Dreams I must have when I walk with you,
dreams that pour smoke into moving air,
        that hangs in the memory of the smallest feature,
the clothes, the small shoes, the handbag even
that perched on the seat has abundant life
        drawn from other into kindly leather, its
clasp fragrant with you, the extraordinary fingers
moving with fire from their owner's life.

All this is nonsense, do not play with me.
The denizen of darkness, the midnight magician, I
       am a snake that could swallow you whole.
No, go away, you will burn your fingers,
this woman is Chirawan and is always expensive.
      Breath in the morning and breath in the
evening, forever my needs in your knitted limbs.
No, go away, I am not for you.

If only that true, as Mae-Ying she know that
sleeping in the long bed she think of his sleeping,
         near, far away, with his bustling manner
the freckles on the hands and honest eyes.
What are you doing, all night and passing,
        pressing to someone who is never there,
but melting to distance and my own Lord Buddha
without your blessing I have no home.

70. And then in the morning so listless and anxious
violent reproaches and still limbs ache.
       Let us be friends then and forget my
outbursts, the petulance. I am only envious.
Maybe it's true that to you he's kind. Yes,
       it is awkward for you and I am sorry.
Richard I forgive you, shall always forgive you,
if you just accept what cannot be changed.

Then I'll stand you lunch at the Blue Boar Tavern,
not much of place but it's cheap and friendly.
       Just put off off the dresses and sultry manners
be what you promise in those soft brown eyes.
Sometimes I see you look round bewildered
       as though the surroundings cannot be real.
We are all fuller by passion and when you flare
something of sunlight is in that laugh.

Richard, be careful with words. I am
Chirawan the quiet and the now expensive
        someone of practice and having her way,
who turns like snake at the first encroachment.
For money I am always your father's mistress.
        You cannot change that and I won't have you.
I like you Richard and your well-meaning candour
but do not suppose it will be more than that.

A week to make friends and that is all?
Let's make it the week that we'll not forget.
        A brief time but full time, loving each other.
What! Are you mad? When I marry you think
both at the church and I must hang my head.
          Dad won't marry. You are just his latest,
ask of the others, his Italian countess,
French Marguerite who was really nice.

I am the temptress, the heart's enforcer.
Chirawan don't think that. A heartless monster,
      women he plays with for six months or so.
What can I tell you? You are not my woman,
Advice I could offer, but you don't want words.
       You are the sorcerer but a gentle creature,
the quietness of clouds and I can hardly imagine
the splendour of darkness that is in that kiss.

75. Yours are the eyelids and my loss of reason,
yours those lashes that with a lustrous black
      locked away daylight and quiet clock's ticking.
Yours the immensities of a body moving,
even stretching itself out of little shoes,
      the breath now around you and the instep arching
to calf and to armpit are like a cobra coiling
that a single embrace would be instant death.

 

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

 

part one     part two    part three    part four