Today is not yesterday…
Free verse poem in English by Hang Borin (June 6, 2012)
Today is not yesterday, yesterday is not today. Blue is blue, not red or yellow. And tomorrow is different from this time. This Monday is not the Monday that you saw last week. This Monday will go away and maybe you will get sick, maybe you will die or not die, who can know?
I say that there is something behind you. You can go, go can come; come can stay, if today is not your death.
Nary told me that her mother was crying. She is old, cannot walk but still can cry. She is 96, not yet dead. She is sorry to hear that her son has died. He is dead before his mother.
Now it is your turn to be dead. Don't be afraid because your life is not your possession. For me as well, tomorrow is still coming.
Today is Sunday, but not the Sunday you saw before. I can take you, or your friends or parents to the gates of death. So do not think! Come see your soul's journey!!
Peauladd HUY Peauladd Huy was born in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. She had just turned eight when Phnom Penh was taken over by the Khmer Rouge. At the time, she was living with her family in Battambang. They had just moved there about five months earlier due to her father’s job. Both of her parents were killed during the Pol Pot regime. She wrote this poem to reconnect, in a sense, with Cambodia, to a family past of happier times. She has not been back to Cambodia, yet. 1) Life—A Step Back Your white hair cropped short, In surrender to your Buddhist belief And for your loss Of your husband, from long ago ... You sat And hunched over, Knees drawn high, From bended legs, In the circle of your frail arms. Your hands, Unsteady by age, Wrinkled by wisdom, And stained by brown blotches of life, Rattled noisily inside the silver bowl. Out You brought an undersized mortar and pestle, Stained blackish-brown, On the tip and in the cavity. Your knobby, Slushy-skinned, Line-etched fingers Trembled softly, Like the breeze-stirred leaves. They shredded, Broke, And then dropped Small pieces of beetle nut, A pinch of pink-wet paste, A tiny bunch of tobacco, And other ingredients Into the mortar, custom-made. One hand, Covered the opening of the mortar, partially, While another, shaking slightly, Gripped the petite pestle -- Then, smashed-smashed-and-smashed with frail force. And, with a tiny-dainty, Silver spoon, You scoped out, So preciously, The contents, A small moistened glop, Oxidized-brown. With belabored, Wobbly hand, You dropped the mushy paste, Onto the heart-shaped leaf, Held in your other wavering hand. Wrapping, Forever in slow movements, Like movie frames turned in slow motion, You rolled the leaf into a bundle, An anticipated concoction. At last, with her old hand Shaking rhythmically, She held the bundle up. With a grin of gums And a wrinkled face, She said to her small granddaughter, “This is how you do it.” To one side of her aged mouth, She placed the bundle with care, In the far back of her jaw. Her toothless gums Clenched tight onto the bundle And chewed slowly … With a savored pleasure. While sitting in the traditional manner, Following along, Was her granddaughter, From the city for a visit, Perhaps, four or five years of age. Two silhouettes ... hunched over The silver container With fruits and leaves, filigreed; Inside, Nestled smaller silver boxes and bowls, With items for her recipe. In the background, Framed by the doorway, The sun, Radiant and red-orange, Readied to set Behind the thinned-out forest and The field of gold-greenish rice, that Swayed in oscillated waves As the winds came … and went. The two figures, Silhouetted by the light of the sunset, Absorbed by the immediate task, Noticed not the beauty on yonder. Grandmother and granddaughter sat, Face-to-face. One taught ... while one absorbed. Sometimes, Even natural beauty, Breaks not the bond of Importance ... of life.