Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Singing Kites of Wat Opot

Photo from the book


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
away.


In 2014 I wrote this poem after 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 felt a regretful ping. I grieved 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 holds great lessons for the rest of us.

shared with the Tuesday Platform at Real Toads.

17 comments:

  1. a miracle of small hearts
    that try to hold big dreams... love that. People working where the need is the greatest deserve our deepest respect and gratitude.

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  2. very moving Sherry - your musical words, the touching topic and the title which summons a happier ending than the start

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  3. Your poem sings in many tones, like the kites: compassion, sorrow and hope among them.

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  4. So very moving, and so repeated across the earth when it come to AIDS and other diseases

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  5. Such a beautiful and moving poem Sherry. Those small hearts do carry big dreams...the last few lines of your poem made me weep. Gorgeous!

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  6. I appreciate poems that are based on true stories and teach me about something of which I was not previously aware. Kites feature in many different cultures and I love the thought of a singing kite flying the heavens in gratitude for harvest and taking messages for the orphans.

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  7. I loved the poem and all the songs of the kites. The story was a sad one, and hopeful at the same time.

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  8. Reallyreallylluv this stanza

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

    And thanks for adding the info after your poem

    much love...

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  9. Very moving poem. Can't help but feel there is some meaning in ending with the single word "away".

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  10. With only $50 in his pocket... a miracle and a moving poem

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  11. I really love that the song is better heard in darkness. That means that many (who need it) will hear it beauty.

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  12. A song worth singing, Sherry. To bring comfort and joy to loss and sadness is something too few of us even try to do.

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  13. It is so hard to bring joy to those in such agony, but I am so grateful there are those who manage to do it.

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  14. What a joyous song this is, Sherry! Your voice is so wonderful no matter what subject you take on.

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I so appreciate you taking the time to read and comment.
Thank you so much. I will be over to see you soon!