Walleah Press         Famous Reporter 21 (Jun 2000)         Louise Oxley



Poem—'Masachi at the River Kwai'

Flimsy and feathered with lines, Masachi is blown
like a spent leaf, yet his footfalls silence cricketsong
that pulsed from lawn green as ricepaddy.

Pillows of thundercloud collude to smother him
where he falters on the buried in numbers
too big for names. The knobbled bamboo is strained

and fleshless and grows hollowly against itself
like the legs and the mere shadows of legs
of men who were bones at his feet even while they lived,

wasted by cholera and lies. The bridge is for nothing,
the border closed. Lotus rise like begging bowls
in the hands of children, moored to their questions.

Masachi asks forgiveness, but the dead are many and mute,
the river long as regret and sluggish with rumour and forgetfulness.
He comes to the graves for the hundred and fourth time,

but the living answer no. Some things, they say,
must never be offered. So he walks through the resolute
crosses, dying of blossom like the bamboo.