On the Chao Phraya, Bangkok

That morning we balanced on the rocking pier,
squinted into the haze. The sun had cut itself
into a thousand shards, highrise windows
flashing a silvery glare.
Fan-tail boats trailed garlands,
blossoms skimming the bronze
river and boat hands whistled, slicing
the din. But what I remember

is not this, not the spicy-sweet smell of garbage
leeching, or the temple, Wat Arun,
we were waiting to see, its carved spires cloaked
in scaffolds of bamboo, warning us away.
Instead, I see the man with a thatch of white hair,
t-shirt stretched across his ribs, who padded
barefoot toward us, bearing a flimsy plate. 
How he stopped and squatted at the edge
of the dock, veins in his calves rising. 
How he lay the plate down, pressed
fingertips together, lowered his head in prayer.

After a time, he straightened and turned
up the wooden ramp to the cool
inside the shack, his solemn wife, the dogs sleeping.
Water sloshing through slats at their feet.
His offering to the river:
a donut, frosted in pink,
and anchored in it, a stick of incense
sending up its fragile thread. 


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