Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Singing Kites of Wat Opot

from the book In a Rocket Made of Ice
by Gail Gutradt

Khleng ek - the singing kite -
flies the heavens
in gratitude for harvest.
It sings its prayers to the God of the Wind,
for dispersing the clouds and bringing the sun,
so the rice grew well.

Below, the orphans of Wat Opot
know joy,
watching Brother Kite carry their dreams
and prayers
to the heavens, where all their parents live.

In long gone days, the old kite masters
could fashion kites that sang in seven tones,
a glorious symphony
heard below, especially in darkness,
when the heat and clamor of the day was done.
The orphans' kites sing in three tones,
sometimes five,
a miracle of small hearts
that try to hold big dreams
against the certain knowledge
of all that took their families

I am reading In a Rocket Made of Ice, by Gail Gutradt, about the AIDS-impacted (and many HIV-positive) orphans of Wat Opot, in Cambodia.  The orphanage, which now houses many orphans, and offers medical and supportive care to  nearby villagers, as well as programs for the children, was begun by Wayne Matthysse, a former Marine corp medic in Vietnam. When he saw the need and responded, he had only fifty dollars in his pocket.

Now, he says he still has only fifty dollars in his pocket, but the work they are doing there, the lives they are helping, sustaining and, often times, honoring at their closing, is phenomenal.Gail has spent much time there among the children, and relays the children's stories so beautifully, that at each's chapter's closing, my heart feels a regretful ping. I shall grieve at the end of this journey among the children, upon closing the last page.

It is not the sadness of their plight, but the joy with which they live, that is blowing me away.


  1. Yes. Three/five tones is a lot from such short lives. As they sing in "Rent"--How do you measure a life? Your poem is a lovely tribute. Can you send it to them?

  2. This is really lovely writing, Sherry.

  3. thank goodness for those like the medic...who see a need and respond without hope of personal gain beyond...i need to read this book...

  4. Sherry, in these times, not only with HIV/AIDS but the frighteningly stronger Ebola virus (sweat, too? That was unheard of in our early AIDS fighting days)... this poem gives me hope. Hope that people will continue to reach out, hope that those children will hear SEVEN kites singing, or more. To be orphaned en masse, as is the case in too many countries, is to share a disjointed childhood. Prayers for Cambodia, Africa in general, and more... Love, Amy

  5. I love your poem that honors them and the kyte they fly with such gratitude. It sounds like a lovely book. It's amazing how much we can learn from those who seem to have lost all.

  6. and we who have every gadget known to man - how does that make us happier? ~

  7. I love how you share all aspects of the world with us~ This poem made me shake and tear up-we take so much for granted in our corners of the world! Thank you for bringing awareness and shining a light on these children!!


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Thank you so much. I will be over to see you soon!