preah kahn

under the clear
running stream,
skyward eyes:
a granite god
beneath divine waters,
time washed,
prayer soaked,
oblivious to the obvious
fact of its own creation,
and to the decline
and fall of the
opulent,
austere empire
that gave it life.

golden towers,
and golden dust,
fig roots
strangle and shatter
the shining linga
in the sanctuary,
the dancing apsara
on the temple wall,
micron by micron,
second by second,
year by year,
the green embrace
tightens
imperceptible
but inescapable,
and each moment erases
the vain god of the last
to a palimpsest
of itself.

the serene neck
of the beautiful seated buddha,
is choked with vines.
macaques squat
and spit fruit rind
on the holy lotus palms.
the blind, devoted labour
of generations
is passing away,
erased by time
and his lovers:
forest, wind,
and ceaseless stream,
and we catch only
a glimpse of glory
fading,
like the god glow
on moses’
hidden,
enlightened face,
catch the last of it
before its gone entirely,
and the last sun sets
on preah kahn.

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