Poetry from Thailand

Original poetry written in and about rural Thailand.

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Location: Chong Khae, Nakhonsawan, Thailand

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Rebuilding Goffstown: Bottled Water

For My Nana Maude


When I was young,
my grandmother knew everything about me
but I knew precious little about her.
It seems she dog-eared every page of my life
for future reference and embarrassment.
It was unfair, and so I began keeping a file on her.


When I was eight,
I only knew that Goffstown was a place full of water
that undercut snow banks in the spring, that ran in
brooks that disappeared underground only
to reappear a hundred feet on in the woods, and
on quiet evenings that rose up in giant
Chrysanthemums from whirling sprinklers over
darkened lawns, but I knew nothing about my
grandmother. We were not equals.


As an adult,
I now know my grandmother’s life was not an
easy one.  My grandfather died young, leaving
her with two young girls, one of whom, my mother,
contracted polio and nearly died. When I was eight,
Nana worked as a night matron on a ward for the
criminally insane, and told wonderful stories of
wrestling inmates to the floor or while on rounds
discovering a suicide. So she kept tabs on me,
I guess, as she did on others in her care.


In my hand now
I hold a plastic bottle of drinking water, something
when I was eight I thought ridiculous and even
heard Nana say, “Why the very idea of such a thing!
Selling drinking water by the bottle.” If you wanted
a drink there were faucets and pumps and rivers full
of the stuff. It didn’t make sense.


Water doesn’t run away
or change to evening flowers in this Asian land
as it did in Goffstown, either. It pools and sometimes
floods, but mostly just seeps down and disappears.
When water comes here, it comes to stay.

July 8, 2011 Ayutthaya, Thailand FG

All rights reserved by the author Forrest Greenwood.

I've moved so much in my life that I have no family pictures.  I would like to put a picture of Nana with this post - if anyone has one.

She had a picture taken by "a man from Rochester [Kodak]" as a young woman. She told me that he came to town selling photographs as part of a project to create history.  It was a come-on, but that is exactly what he was doing.

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