Peter Dale Scott
a selection from his new book of poems Walking on Darkness

At Angkor Wat

The long straight walking path 
from one ruined Buddhist temple to another
gave Khmer girls a quarter-hour window 
to sell their postcards. One, perhaps fifteen,
glommed on to me from my left, while on my right
my daughter Cassie, a 45-year-old feminist, 
kept her eyes firmly forward as we walked.

Vivacious, in an ironed blouse and skirt
with a vendor’s license round her teen-age neck,
the girl spoke English heavily accented,
yet fluent and familiar enough to prove
she was well trained in selling: I was drawn 
into more and more friendly conversation:
both of us teasing, laughing at our wit.

And in this light mood, as we approached 
the steps up to the temple, I surprised
and shocked myself, saying, without a moment’s
premeditation, and quite forcefully  
so that Cassie might have overheard,
“No, I don’t want your silly postcards!
I want you!”

Then as I was dealing with my terror
that I had offended both my companions,
the girl thrust aside her tray of postcards
and came up close, almost into my face,
saying, urgently, passionately, “Oh Mistair!
Meestair! I want you!”

Well! Thank goodness Cassie was beside me
to preserve from going anywhere
both her somewhat unpredictable father
and also this moment which -- despite
its background of poverty and sexploitation --
I remember as meaningful:

Two strangers, from opposite sides of the world, 
drawn, for a moment, to each other’s eyes…...

						December 24, 2004


from the forthcoming book of poems Walking on Darkness:

     Peter Dale Scott
Walking on Darkness

Sheep Meadow Press
Publication date: September 6, 2016
$16.95 Paperback
ISBN: 9781937679644