Poetry Prompt Seven: Lasting Visual Images

Thinking back but looking forward. Getting excited for the unknown future whilst also emoting nostalgia for the known, uncomfortably known past. Missing the heat waves of pollution dancing across the suspicious eyes of the city, dark critiquing stares at our fair skin and white collar dress. Memories still ringing of the roar of the Phantom at 6.15 as the streets began to steam with the smells of mee cha and pho, a hearty Asian breakfast, slurped down by adults and school kids alike, sat upon tiny plastic stools, surrounded by motos and calling Tuk Tuk drivers who’d probably been drinking and calling all night. Haunted by the wide, questioning eyes of street selling children, some no older than 3 or 4, trying to push bracelets, tshirts, books or other trashy items no foreigner really needs but might buy out of guilt for the horrendous situation of the child, which in turn fuels the trade of street kids selling, and probably barely feeds them and keeps them out of school. Some kids so hungry you find they talk only to your burger in their broken English and will sit down to share the remnants of food with their little mates. Heartbreaking, you have to develop the thickest of skins to live any sort of long term existence there, in that place for so long we called our home. Gated off by security guards, guard dogs, gates, walls, fences and window bars. Secluded into an ex-pat zone meant only for foreigners. Still missing that place where teaching was the profession of the hour, Chur was the name answered to, and though it wasn’t our food, wasn’t our life, wasn’t our culture, we learned to drive like a Khmer, brashly wander out into traffic like a Khmer, speak the language like a Khmer and love the kids, the strangers, the friends, the co workers,the life as if it were our own. And now, in the midst of reverse culture shock, missing our independent life as if there were an irreparable hole in my heart, I wish we could take back those moments we missed, the ones we were living without fear, without uncertainty, without knowing they would be some of the most cherished memories later, when they were gone. Now they are gone. I don’t want to go back, but I am shy to move forward, revelling in those forgotten easy Asian times in the city of everlasting roadworks and dust. The place I never thought I’d learn to call my home, until I did. I miss you.

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