fishing net unfurling
behind his handhollowed canoe
like a forgotten cobweb resigning to the breeze.
his eyes lost beyond the bow
swirling with the eddies
as the Mekong’s slow muddy flow
unravels buried memories.
each paddle stroke pulling
from the dark current deep inside him
welling up in his cataract glassed eyes
like heavy clouds quivering before a storm.
water drops crawling wet
through the crevices of his cracked creekbed face
quenching the coarse forest of his whitened whiskers
leaving only vacant trails of crusted salt.
swirling in the hypnotic rhythm of the river
memory’s image flashes
like the fiery reflection in the water that night
fleeing falling flames
on the rickety refugee raft
when he was forced to abandon her
on the dirt floor.
she had just learned to walk
the week before.
From 1964-1973 the United States government conducted a “Secret War” in Laos by dropping over 2 million tons of bombs on the countryside, more bombs than all of WWII combined.