There is tenderness to learn in these mountains:
Plucked lahpet
from bushes planted wild
on the Shan hills; harnessed decay
in jars of shrimp, or grassy mustard leaf;
Dearness dressed from mud
as julienned Watercorn or threaded
Inle lotus, graped
into Ayethayar wine, or kilned
in Pa’o villages as water pots
from soil of reddest blood –

Trimmed, trained, or trellised,
but only in the shape of this land’s
untamed kindness, harnessing
the vigour of bamboo shooting skywards
to strum the songs of waterfalls yet to flow,
echoing the healing hush of streams
on this ever wounded earth.

That pain can be taught as wondrous thunder
to little children, metaphored
from the tenor of gunshots
in their war-torn villages,

That their precious breaths
can be wrapped at ease
in the most delicate wild-leaf

– Taunggyi, Shan State, Myanmar


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